Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Awarded by U.S. Department of Defense
Type Service medal
Eligibility September 11, 2001present
Awarded for Direct support in service to the Global War on Terrorism
Status Active
Established EO 13289, March 12, 2003
Next (higher) Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal[1]
Next (lower) Korea Defense Service Medal[1]
Related National Defense Service Medal

Ribbon bar & Streamer

The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (GWOT-S) is a military award of the United States military which was created by Executive Order 13289 on March 12, 2003 by President George W. Bush. The award recognizes those military service members who have performed service in the War on Terror from September 11, 2001, to a date yet to be determined.


In September 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense sent a request to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry to provide a design for a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. In January 2003, a design was completed, which was then approved and made official in March 2003.[2]


The following are the seven established operations for the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal recognized by the Department of Defense:[3]

Operation From To
AIRPORT SECURITY OPERATIONS (ASO) September 27, 2001 May 31, 2002
NOBLE EAGLE (ONE) September 11, 2001 TBD
ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) September 11, 2001 TBD
IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) March 19, 2003 August 31, 2010
NEW DAWN (OND) September 1, 2010 December 31, 2011

The Coast Guard awards the medal for different operations (qv).[4]


To receive the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a military service member must perform duty in a designated anti-terrorism operation for a period of either 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days of duty. For those who were engaged in combat, killed, or wounded in the line of duty the time requirement is waived.[5][6]

The initial authorized operation for the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal was the so-called "Airport Security Operation" which occurred between September 27, 2001 and May 31, 2002. Additional operations, for which the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal is authorized, include the active military campaigns of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.[5] Future operations are at the discretion of United States component commanders upon approval from the United States Department of Defense.[6]

Support duty

In 2004, Defense Department and military service branches began publishing directives, messages, and orders, that specified that the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal would be awarded not only for direct participation in specific operations, for also to any personnel who performed support duty of an anti-terrorism operation but do not directly participate.[5] The phrase "support" was further defined as any administrative, logistics, planning, operational, technical, or readiness activity, which provides support to an operation of the Global War on Terror. As a result of this blanket term, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal became an eligible award for most personnel of the United States armed forces who performed service after September 11, 2001 through March 2004.

With the orders granting the GWOTSM for "support duty", the medal has essentially become almost the same type of award as the National Defense Service Medal and graduates of training schools, ROTC, and service academies are typically presented both awards at the same time. The primary difference between the NDSM and the GWOTSM is that the NDSM is automatic as soon as a person joins the military whereas the GWOTSM may only be presented after thirty days of active duty (or three months in the case of the Reserve Component). The regulations for Reservists and National Guardsmen are also not as well defined for the GWOTSM as they are for the NDSM, since the presentation of the NDSM to Reservists and National Guardsmen was codified and clarified as far back as the Gulf War.


U.S. Army regulations state that all soldiers "on active duty, including Reserve Component Soldiers mobilized, or Army National Guard Soldiers activated on or after 11 September 2001 to a date to be determined having served 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days are authorized the GWOTSM." The GWOTSM was awarded automatically to all service members on Active Duty between September 11, 2001 and March 31, 2004. While the award is no longer automatic, the termination "date to be determined" has not been set. The Battalion Commander is the approval authority for the GWOTSM. Service members are still eligible for the medal provided they meet the criteria in AR 600-8-22.[7]

Army Soldiers serving on active duty primarily in a training status (basic training, advanced individual training, officer training courses, etc.…) are not authorized award of the GWOTSM for the active duty time they are in training. The criteria for the awards specifically states that a Soldier has to serve on active duty in support of a designated GWOT operation (Operation Noble Eagle ("ONE"), Operation Enduring Freedom ("OEF"), Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF"), Operation New Dawn ("OND"), Operation Inherent Resolve ("OIR"), and Operation Freedom's Sentinel ("OFS")) for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days. Soldiers in a training status are “not” supporting these designated operations.[8]

Navy, Marine Corps, and Military Sealift Command

Regulations for rating the GWOTSM are the same in both the Navy, the Marine Corps, and Military Sealift Command for those who serve on both active duty, reserve duty, and support. Essentially, 30 days of consecutive duty or 60 days of non-consecutive duty in support of approved organizations. Personnel who are still in their initial career training are not eligible. Eligibility begins when they reach their first permanent duty station. Civilian Mariners (CIVMARs) attached to Military Sealift Command's supply ships may be eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service Medal.[9][10]

Air Force

Air Force service members were first awarded the GWOTSM for airport security operations in the fall and winter of 2001. It was subsequently awarded for participation or support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. Members must be assigned, attached or mobilized to a unit participating in or serving in support of these designated operations for thirty consecutive days or sixty nonconsecutive days. Personnel who are not deployed may be eligible for service in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Examples of these duties are maintaining and loading weapons systems for combat missions, securing installations against terrorism, augmenting command posts or crisis action teams, and processing personnel for deployment.[5]

Coast Guard

Coast Guard regulations concerning the award of this medal state, "From 11 September 2001 to 30 January 2005: Awarded to all Coast Guard active duty and reserve members on active duty during the eligibility period. To qualify, members must have served on active duty for a period of not less than 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days following initial accession point training. Service while assigned to training duty as a student, cadet, officer candidate, and duty under instruction (DUINS), does not count toward eligibility. This includes both training and summer cruises for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Officer Candidate School. For reservists, “active duty” includes ADT and IDT service in an operational vice classroom setting.[4]

From 31 January 2005 to a date to be determined: Eligible service members must be or have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to a unit participating in or serving in direct support of specified Global War on Terrorism operations (e.g., NOBLE EAGLE, LIBERTY SHIELD, NEPTUNE SHIELD, PORT SHIELD, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, or Area Commander-designated GWOT operations) for 30 consecutive or 60 cumulative days, or meet one of the following criteria: (a) Be engaged in actual combat regardless of time served in the operation; or (b) While participating in the operation, regardless of time, be killed, wounded, or injured requiring medical evacuation."[4]


The medal is a bronze color metal disc 1.25 inches in diameter. The obverse depicts an eagle with spread wings. On the breast of the eagle is a shield of thirteen vertical bars. In the eagle's right claw is an olive branch and in the left claw are three arrows. The eagle is surmounted by a terrestrial globe with the inscription above “WAR ON TERRORISM SERVICE MEDAL.” On the reverse is a laurel wreath on a plain field. The medal is suspended from an Old Glory Blue ribbon 1.375 inches wide with stripes of golden yellow, scarlet and white.[11]

Service and battle stars

Only one award of this medal may be authorized for any individual, therefore, no service stars are prescribed.

Although qualifying circumstances would be extremely rare, battle stars may be applicable for personnel who were engaged in actual combat against the enemy involving grave danger of death or serious bodily injury. Only a Combatant Command can initiate a request for a battle star. This request will contain the specific unit(s) or individual(s) engaged in actual combat, the duration for which combat was sustained, and a detailed description of the actions against the enemy. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the approving authority for the specific battle stars. To date (as of 2013) there have been no service or battle stars authorized for the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The Military Decorations and Awards Review Results released in 2016 resolved to "eliminate authority for battle stars".[12]

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army.
 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Air Force website

  1. 1 2 "Army Regulation 600–8–22 Military Awards" (PDF). Army Publishing Directorate. p. 17. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  3. "Global War of Terrorism Service (GWOT-S) Medal - Approved Operations" (PDF). Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. Department of Defense. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 "Coast Guard Medals and Awards manual" (PDF). COMDTINST M1650.25D. United States Coast Guard. May 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Global War on Terrorism Service Medal". US Air Force Personnel Center. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  6. 1 2 "§ 578.32 Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.". Code of Federal Regulations Title 32 - National Defense. US Government Printing Office. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  7. "Army Regulation 600–8–22" (PDF). Personnel-General, Military Awards. United States Army Publishing Directorate. 25 June 2015. p. 36. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  8. "Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal GWOTEM and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal GWOTSM". US Army Human Resource Command Website. Human Resource Service Center. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  9. "SECNAVINST 1650.1H Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual" (PDF). 2006-08-22. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
  11. "Global War on Terrorism Service Medal". The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  12. item #29, Military Decorations and Awards Review Results, Department of Defense, January 2016

External links

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