|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Awarded by the United States Department of Defense|
Served in the armed forces who, after July 1, 1958:
|Established||Executive Order 10977, Dec. 4, 1961|
|Next (higher)||Antarctica Service Medal|
|Next (lower)||Vietnam Service Medal|
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) is a military award of the United States military, which was first created in 1961 by Executive Order of President John Kennedy. The medal is awarded for participation in "a United States military operation and encountered foreign armed opposition, or were in danger of hostile action by foreign armed forces." 
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal may be authorized for three categories of operations: U.S. military operations; U.S. military operations in direct support of the United Nations; and U.S. operations of assistance to friendly foreign nations. The medal shall be awarded only for operations for which no other U.S. campaign medal is approved.
Since its original conception in 1961, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for United States participation in over forty five designated military campaigns. The first campaign of the AFEM was the Cuban Missile Crisis and the award was issued for military service between October 1962 and June 1963. Following this original issuance, the AFEM was made retroactive to 1958 and issued for actions in Lebanon, Taiwan, Republic of the Congo, Quemoy and Matsu, and for duty in Berlin between 1961 and 1963.
During the early years of the Vietnam War, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for initial operations in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was intended to replace the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal. In 1965, with the creation of the Vietnam Service Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Vietnam War service. As the Vietnam Service Medal was retroactively authorized, those personnel who had previously received the AFEM were granted the option to exchange the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Vietnam Service Medal. In 1968, the AFEM was awarded for Naval operations in defense of the USS Pueblo, which was seized by North Korea, as well as for Korean Service, and awarded for Thailand and Cambodia operations in 1973. Because of these awards during the Vietnam war period, some military personnel have been awarded both the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal & the Vietnam Service Medal. In 2003, with the creation of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the AFEM was discontinued for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. After 18 March 2003, some personnel became eligible for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, as well as the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Only one medal may be awarded, however, and individuals or units that deployed to the Gulf for Operation Southern Watch, and then immediately transitioned to Operation Iraqi Freedom, are not eligible for both medals.
Beginning in 1992 an effort was begun to phase out the AFEM in favor of campaign specific medals and the newly created Armed Forces Service Medal. To date, however, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is still listed on official precedence charts and the award is still considered an active service medal.
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is issued as a bronze medal, 1-1/4 inches in diameter. The obverse side consists of an eagle, with wings addorsed and inverted (representing the strength of the United States Armed Forces), standing on a sword loosened in its scabbard, and super- imposed on a radiant compass rose of eight points, (representing the readiness to serve wherever needed) all within the circumscription "ARMED FORCES" above and "EXPEDITIONARY SERVICE" below with a sprig of laurel on each side. On the reverse is the shield from the United States Coat of Arms above two laurel branches separated by a bullet, all within the circumscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Green; 3/32 inch Golden Yellow ; 3/32 inch Spicebrown ; 3/32 inch Black ; 7/32 inch Bluebird ; 1/16 inch Ultramarine Blue ; 1/16 inch White ; 1/16 inch Scarlet; 7/32 inch Bluebird; 3/32 inch Black; 3/32 inch Spicebrown; 3/32 inch Golden Yellow; and 3/32 inch Green. Additional awards of the medal are denoted by service stars, with the arrowhead device also authorized for United States Army personnel who are awarded the medal through participation in an airborne or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain sailors.
U.S. military operations
|Approved U.S. Military Operations for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Area or Operation||Start Date||End Date|
|Quemoy and Matsu Islands||23 August 1956||1 June 1963|
|Lebanon||1 July 1958||1 November 1958|
|Taiwan Straits||23 August 1958||1 January 1959|
|Berlin||14 August 1961||1 June 1963|
|Cuba||24 October 1962||1 June 1963|
|Congo||23 November 1964||27 November 1964|
|Dominican Republic||28 April 1965||21 September 1966|
|Korea [lower-alpha 1]||1 October 1966||30 June 1974|
|Cambodia (Evacuation-Operation Eagle Pull)||11 April 1975||13 April 1975|
|Vietnam (Evacuation Operation Frequent Wind)[lower-alpha 2]||29 April 1975||30 April 1975|
|Mayagüez Operation||15 May 1975|
|Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury)||23 October 1983||21 November 1983|
|Libya (Operation El Dorado Canyon)||12 April 1986||17 April 1986|
|Panama (Operation Just Cause)||20 December 1989||31 January 1990|
|Haiti (Operation Secure Tomorrow)||29 February 2004||15 June 2004|
U.S. operations in direct support of the United Nations
The medal is also authorized for several United Nations actions, such as peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and Somalia.
|Approved U.S. Operations in Direct Support of the United Nations for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Area or Operation||Start Date||End Date|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||14 July 1960||1 September 1962|
|Somalia (Operation Restore Hope, Operation United Shield)||5 December 1992||31 March 1995|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Operations Joint Endeavor & Joint Guard) [lower-alpha 3] [lower-alpha 4]||1 June 1992||20 June 1998|
|Former Republic of Yugoslavia (Operation Joint Forge)||21 Jun 1998||2 December 2004|
U.S. operations of assistance for a friendly foreign nation
The AFEM has been issued for numerous operations in the Persian Gulf, most notably Operation Earnest Will, which began in 1987 and lasted until the eve of Operation Desert Shield. Following the close of Desert Storm, and the engagement in peacekeeping and sanction missions against Iraq, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued again for several operations such as Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Vigilant Sentinel.
|Approved U.S. Operations of Assistance for a Friendly Foreign Nation for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Area or Operation||Start Date||End Date|
|Vietnam (General Service)||1 July 1958||3 July 1965|
|Laos||19 April 1961||7 October 1962|
|Cambodia (Vietnam Support Operations)||29 March 1973||15 August 1973|
|Thailand (Cambodia Support Operations)||29 March 1973||15 August 1973|
|El Salvador||1 January 1981||1 February 1992|
|Lebanon||1 June 1983||1 December 1987|
|Persian Gulf (Operation Earnest Will)||24 July 1987||1 August 1990|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Southern Watch)||1 December 1995||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Maritime Intercept Operation)||1 December 1995||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Vigilant Sentinel)||1 December 1995||15 February 1997|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Northern Watch)||1 January 1997||18 March 2003|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Thunder)||11 November 1988||22 December 1998|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Fox)||16 December 1998||22 December 1998|
|Southwest Asia (Operation Desert Spring)||31 December 1998||18 March 2003|
- >Also eligible for the Korean Defense Service Medal for same timeframe as a DOD exception to policy, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >May exchange AFEM for Vietnam Service Medal, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >Also entitled to Armed Forces Service Medal for above same timeframe as an exception to policy, Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 National Defense Volume 3, dated 7 July 2008
- >Only for participants deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, The Institute of Heraldry: Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal is similar in nature to the AFEM, and was awarded for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom up until June 2005 when it was replaced by the Iraq Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Iraq and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal for Operations directly in Afghanistan. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is no longer currently issued for operations in the Middle East, but may be reactivated for future campaigns which may not qualify for either the GWOTEM, the Iraq Campaign Medal or Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
The United States Navy and Marine Corps issue two similar awards, the Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. In the modern age, service members authorized one of these medals are occasionally permitted to choose between receipt of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the service specific expeditionary medal. The AFEM and the Navy/Marine Expeditionary Medal cannot be bestowed simultaneously for the same action.
The United States Air Force also maintains an award known as the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon. Despite the similarity in names, however, this award is unrelated to the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and rather is presented for duty performed on Air Force deployments.
- Arrowhead device
- Awards and decorations of the United States military
- U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry
- National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records Center)
- "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal". https://www.afpc.af.mil/About/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/421915/armed-forces-expeditionary-medal/
- Air Force Personnel Center Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Service Medals and Campaign Credit of the United States Navy,Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Army Regulations 600-8-27 p. 26 paragraph 9-14
- Army Regulations 600-8-27 p. 26 & 28
- Foster, Frank C. (2002). A complete guide to all United States military medals, 1939 to present. Fountain Inn, S.C.: MOA Press. ISBN 1-884-45218-3. OCLC 54755134.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1971). American war medals and decorations. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-12101-0. OCLC 128058.
- Kerrigan, Evans E. (1990). American medals and decorations. Noroton Heights, CT: Medallic. ISBN 0-792-45082-5. OCLC 21467942.
- Robles, Philip K. (1971). United States military medals and ribbons. Rutland, VT: C. E. Tuttle. ISBN 0-804-80048-0. OCLC 199721.
- (US) Army Regulation 600-8-22 Chapter 2-12, Tables 2-2, 2-3 and 2-4, dated 11 December 2006.
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