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National Defence Medal
Medaille de la defense nationale or.jpg
National Defence Medal, Gold grade (obverse)
Awarded by  France
Type Medal with three classes (Gold, Silver and Bronze)
Eligibility French citizens and foreign nationals
Awarded for Particularly honorable service rendered to the French military
Status Currently awarded
Established 21 April 1982
Next (higher) Overseas Medal
Next (lower) Medal for voluntary military service

The National Defence Medal (French language: "Médaille de la Défense nationale") is a French military decoration. It was created by Charles Hernu, Minister of Defence and established by decree on April 21, 1982. It rewards particularly honourable service rendered by military personnel for their participation in operational activities. The medal has three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze.[1]


For military service

The award is made by decision of the military hierarchy, but the recipients must have achieved a personal minimum of:

  • For the Bronze level: 1 year of service and accumulated 90 points;
  • For the Silver level: 5 years of service (minimum 2 years in the Bronze level) and accumulated 600 points;
  • For the Gold level: 10 years of service (minimum 2 years in the Silver grade) and accumulated 800 points[1]

The yearly quota of Gold and Silver level awards are set by the minister of defence. Points are earned through participation in exercises, operations, proficiency, initiative, awards received, etc.[1] People who had been awarded the ordre de la Légion d'honneur or the ordre du mérite can not receive the Médaille for military service.

Exceptional circumstances

The medal can be awarded in any one of the three levels to:

  • Military personnel on active duty or in reserves and civilians killed or injured in the line of duty;
  • Active military or reservists which have distinguished themselves by the quality of their service;
  • French civilians and foreign military personnel or civilians who have rendered honourable services particularly important to the defence of France[1]

Mention in Despatches

When an individual is mentioned in despatches (citation dans les ordres) for heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. He or she is awarded the Médaille de la Défense Nationale at the Gold level, adorned with a ribbon device (bronze, silver or silver gilt star or palm) depending on the level (regiment, brigade, division, army) of the mention, in the same manner as for the Croix de Guerre.[1]

Award description

Medal and ribbon

The National Defence Medal is a 36 mm in diameter circular medal struck from bronze, the gold level is gilt, the silver award is silvered. The obverse bears the relief image of Rude's Marseillaise with the relief inscription along the upper circumference "FRENCH REPUBLIC" (French language: RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE). The reverse bears the relief image of a Phrygian cap over a laurel branch and the inscription along the medal circumference in the upper half "ARMY" and "NATION", in the lower half "NATIONAL DEFENSE" (French language: "ARMÉE" "NATION" "DÉFENSE NATIONALE"), the upper and lower inscriptions being separated by a relief five pointed star on each side[1]

The medal hangs from a ring through the medal's suspension loop. The bronze grade award's ribbon is a 36 mm wide red silk moiré ribbon with a 12 mm wide central blue stripe. The ribbon for the silver grade award is similar with the addition of 3 mm wide white edge stripes, the edge stripes are yellow for the gold grade award[1]

Gold grade
obverse & ribbon
Silver grade
obverse & ribbon
Bronze grade
obverse & ribbon
Gold grade for
obverse & ribbon
Gold grade
reverse & ribbon
Medaille de la defense nationale or.jpg Medaille de la defense nationale argent.jpg Medaille de la defense nationale bronze.jpg Medaille de la defense nationale or exceptionelle.jpg Medaille de la defense nationale or revers.jpg
Medaille de la Defense Nationale Or ribbon.svg Medaille de la Defense Nationale Argent ribbon.svg Medaille de la Defense Nationale Bronze ribbon.svg Medaille d'Or de la Defense Nationale pour citation sans croix ribbon.svg Medaille de la Defense Nationale Or ribbon.svg
With clasps:
With clasps:
With clasp:
With palm for an
Army level citation
Common reverse
for all grades


General Bruno Dary, a recipient of the Silver grade of the National Defense Medal

Admiral Pierre-François Forissier, a recipient of the Silver grade of the National Defense Medal

Admiral Édouard Guillaud, a recipient of the Bronze grade of the National Defense Medal

File:Gal 5* PUGA.jpg

General Benoît Puga, a recipient of the Bronze grade of the National Defense Medal

Multiple specialty and geographical clasps are allowed for wear on the ribbon, each grade being allowed a single clasp up to a maximum of three[1]

Geographical clasps:

  • Corps européen (European Corps)
  • Force océanique stratégique (Strategic oceanic forces)
  • Missions d'opérations extérieures (Foreign operational missions)
  • Missions d'opérations intérieures (Domestic operational missions)
  • Mururoa-Hao
  • Terres australes et antarctiques (Southern and Antarctic lands)
  • Forces françaises stationnées en Allemagne (French forces stationed in Germany)
  • Missions d'assistance extérieure (Foreign assistance missions)
  • Postes Interarmées (Interservices post)

Speciality clasps:

  • Infanterie (Infantry)
  • Troupes de marine (Army expeditionary troops)
  • Arme blindée et cavalerie (Armoured troops)
  • Artillerie (Artillery)
  • Train (Logistics)
  • Génie (Engineering)
  • Transmissions (Communications)
  • Matérial (Supply)
  • Commissariat de l'armée de terre (Army administration)
  • Troupes de montagne (Mountain troops)
  • Troupes aéroportées (Airborne troops)
  • Aviation légère (Light aviation)
  • Sapeurs-pompiers (Firefighters)
  • Sécurité civile (Civil defence)
  • Légion étrangère (Foreign Legion)
  • Bâtiments de combat (Warships)
  • Sous-marins (Submarines)
  • Aéronautique navale (Naval aviation)
  • Fusiliers marins (Marines)
  • Nageurs de combat (Combat divers)
  • Plongeurs démineurs (Clearance divers)
  • Marins pompiers (Naval firefighters)
  • Force aérienne de combat (Combat air forces)
  • Force aérienne stratégique (Strategic air force)
  • Force aérienne de projection (Air expeditionary force)
  • Commandement air des systèmes de surveillance, d'information et de communication (Air force surveillance, information and communication systems command)
  • Défense aérienne (Air defence)
  • Fusiliers commandos de l'air (Air force commandos)
  • Génie de l'air (Aerospace engineering)
  • Commandement des écoles de l'armée de l'air (Air force training command)
  • Armement (Weapons)
  • Service de santé (Medical service)
  • Services des essences (Fuel service)
  • Gendarmerie nationale (Federal police)
  • Armée de terre (Army)
  • Marine nationale (Navy)
  • Armée de l'air (Air force)
  • Justice militaire (Military justice)

Notable recipients (partial list)

Gold grade

Silver grade

Bronze grade

Exceptional circumstances

  • USA Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Ritsick (Gold grade with clasp "INFANTERIE")[2]
  • USAF Captain John Mosier (Gold grade with bronze star)[3]
  • USAF Technical Sergeant Kristopher Burridge (Gold grade with bronze star)[3]
  • USAF Senior Airman Jackson Rogers (Gold grade with bronze star)[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Battini, Jean; Zaniewicki, Witold (2003). Guide pratique des décorations françaises actuelles. Paris: LAVAUZELLE. pp. 157–161. ISBN 2-7025-1030-2. 
  2. JILL WHALEN (2010-03-20). "McAdoo Guardsman receives French honor". Republican Herald. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 U.S.A.F. Staff Sgt. John Wright (2011-07-15). "French award National Defense Gold Medal to pararescue Airmen". U.S. Air Force Central. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 


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