The NATO Medal is an international military decoration which is awarded to various militaries of the world under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is manufactured by Eekelers - Centini, International, of Hemiksem, Belgium. There are currently ten versions of the NATO Medal in existence, for service in Yugoslavia, Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, two for service during Article 5 operations (Eagle Assist, Active Endeavour), and four for Non-Article 5 NATO operations (ISAF, Balkans, NTM-Iraq, and Pakistan). In addition, there are corresponding clasps for operations such as ISAF, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, NTM-Iraq (NATO Training Mission-Iraq) and clasps designating Article 5, and Non-Article 5 designations. There is also a NATO Meritorious Service Medal, with a "Meritorious Service" clasp as well.
Non-Article 5 Medal
For U.S. Forces, eligibility for the Non-Article 5 Medal for the Balkans remains the same as those previous NATO medals with the exception of the dates of service. Those members entering the Balkan theatre on or after 1 January 2003 will be eligible for the Non-Article 5 medal. The service must be 30 days either continuous or accumulated. Aircrew members will accumulate one days of service for the first sortie flown during any day of the operation. Additional sorties on the same day will receive no further credit. The Balkans area is delineated as the political boundaries and airspace of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Yugoslavia (including Kosovo), the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania, based on the detailed description contained in the SFOR, KFOR, and TF Fox OPLANS. Service members who are entitled to more than one NATO medal during the same period will only be awarded one NATO Medal. The NATO chain of command will deem which medal is appropriate.
For U.S. Forces the eligibility for the Non-Article 5 Medal for service with the ISAF are those who are members of units or staffs as set out in the Joint Operations Area taking part in operations in Afghanistan. The area of eligibility is delineated by the political boundaries of the International Security and Assistance Force. The service must be a minimum of 30 days either continuous or accumulated, from 1 June 2003 to a date to be determined. The British and Canadian Governments allow its soldiers to accept, but not wear the medal officially, unlike many other NATO member forces who allow their soldiers to wear the medal. They are not allowed to wear the NATO decorations with ISAF clasp because since 1919 there has been a ruling that British troops cannot wear two for the same campaign or operation. There is already a UK campaign medal, the Operational Service Medal, introduced in 2001. So other NATO campaign medals like the one awarded for OUP (Libya) can be worn,
On July 24, 2012, The Department of Defense announced that NATO medals for operations in Libya and Africa have been approved for acceptance and wear by eligible U.S. service members and DOD civilian personnel.
NATO Meritorious Service Medal
The NATO Meritorious Service Medal was first awarded in 2003 to commend NATO staff whose personal initiative and dedication went beyond their duty to make a difference both to their colleagues, and to NATO as an organisation. The Medal is the personal Award of The Secretary General of NATO, who signs each citation. Less than 50 medals are awarded each year and it remains the only significant award for individual personal effort for NATO staff; and can be awarded to Military and Civilian staff alike. When assessing nominations for the award, there are several criteria taken into consideration: the performance of acts of courage in difficult or dangerous circumstances; showing exceptional leadership or personal example; making an outstanding individual contribution to a NATO sponsored programme or activity; or enduring particular hardship or deprivation in the interest of NATO. The NATO Meritorious Service Medal is now authorised for wear on U.S. Military uniforms.
To differentiate between the versions of the NATO Medal, a different ribbon pattern scheme is used for each of the decorations. The NATO Medal for Yugoslavia Service consists of a blue ribbon with two thin white stripes on each side, very similar in appearance to the United Nations Medal. The NATO Medal for Kosovo service appears as a mixed blue and white stripped ribbon, with white stripes on the side as well as a wide white central stripe. The NATO Medal for Macedonia appears as a blue and white mixed ribbon with four white stripes. The Article 5 NATO Medal for Operation Eagle Assist has a blue background with a thin central golden stripe surrounded by white stripes. The Article 5 Medal for Operation Active Endeavour has a blue background with two thin golden colored stripes surrounded by white stripes. The Non-Article 5 medal for the Balkans operations consists of a blue background with a central silver stripe surrounded by white stripes. The Non Article 5 Medal for ISAF, and NTM-I operations consists of a blue background with two silver stripes surrounded by white stripes. The NATO Meritorious Service Medal consists of a blue background with silver and white stripes on the outer most portion of the ribbon, and the medallion color is changed from bronze in appearance to a silver medallion for this medal only. All medals except the Macedonian NATO Medal have corresponding campaign clasps, however some militaries (such as the United States) prohibit the wearing of the medal with a clasp and instead authorize service stars.
For U.S. Forces, a bronze service star indicates additional awards of the NATO Medal. As of May 2013, only the basic NATO ribbon may be worn for U. S. services (at least this is true for the U.S. Army). Most military services besides the U.S. will allow both decorations to be worn simultaneously as they are considered separate awards.
NATO medals authorized for wear include the NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia, the NATO Medal for Kosovo Service, both of the Article 5 Medals, the Non-Article 5 medals for the Balkans and Afghanistan (ISAF), The NATO Meritorious Service Medal and the Macedonia NATO Medal and the Non-Article 5 Medal for service in Iraq, under the NTM-I.
- "NATO Medals". Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. 2006-02-07. Archived from the original on 2006-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20060616165312/http://www.nato.int/shape/about/natomedals.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
- "DOD approves NATO medals for operations in Africa, Libya". Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. http://archive.is/FUEf.
- "NATO Meritorious Service Medal". Air Force Personnel Center. 2003-09-09. http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/library/awards/index.asp.
- "Acceptance and Wear of NATO Medals by U.S. Military Members and DoD Civilian Employees". United States Department of Defense. https://awards.navy.mil/awards/webdoc01.nsf/%28vwDocsByID%29/DL070719132034/$file/NATO.pdf. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
- NATO Article 5 Medals, Non Article 5 Medals, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal
- History of NATO Medals - NATO official website
- Army Human Resource Command FAQ NATO Medal
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