The Pentagon has authorized the Global War on Terrorism medal to be awarded to troops taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to destroy the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The qualifying start date for the medal for Inherent Resolve is June 15, when President Obama ordered American forces into the region as a response to the territorial gains by ISIS in Iraq.
The Pentagon's action, announced Oct. 31, expands the number of operations covered by the GWOT Expeditionary Medal to five. The medal is also authorized for Operating Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Nomad Shadow -- a secretive U.S.-Turkey intelligence sharing mission that began in November 2007.
The Oct. 31 authorization order lists 14 nations and all or part of three waterways where deployed service members are eligible for the medal, though the actual number of Americans in any of the countries ranges from zero to a few thousand.
As with earlier GWOT authorizations, Iran is listed as one of the eligible countries, though the U.S. has no service members there. Elsewhere there are fewer than 1,000 U.S. troops in Jordan, about 1,600 in Iraq, and about 2,000 in Bahrain.
The other qualifying countries and areas are Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 degrees longitude (roughly the area bordered on the south by Egypt, on the north by Turkey and on the East by Gaza, Israel, Lebanon and Syria).
The Defense Department also created a GWOT Service Medal after the 9/11 attacks, awarded to National Guard and reservists called up for domestic missions. These included airport security operations from Sept. 27, 2001, to May 31, 2002, and Operation Noble Eagle, homeland security duties supporting federal, state and local agencies that began Sept. 14, 2001. Noble Eagle's end date also has not yet been established.
The Pentagon said all operations and areas of eligibility approved for the GWOT Expeditionary Medal may be found on the DoD personnel and readiness website.
-- Bryant Jordan can be reached at email@example.com