WASHINGTON -- Troops who have participated in Operation Freedom's Sentinel now qualify for the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
The previous qualifying Afghanistan operation was Enduring Freedom, a combat mission which ended in December. The U.S. military has transitioned to Freedom's Sentinel, an advise and assist mission with a relatively small counterterrorism component.
For the purposes of the military awards, the campaign in Afghanistan has been divided up into the following phases:
- Liberation of Afghanistan (Sept. 11, 2001-Nov. 30, 2001)
- Consolidation I (Dec. 1, 2001-Sept. 30, 2006)
- Consolidation II (Oct. 1, 2006-Nov. 30, 2009)
- Consolidation III (Dec. 1, 2009-June 30, 2011)
- Transition I (July 1, 2011-Dec. 31, 2014)
- Transition II (Jan. 1, 2015-TBD)
Campaign stars will be used on the Afghanistan Campaign Medal to recognize a servicemember's participation in multiple campaign phases in country.
President Barack Obama has declared that the combat mission in Afghanistan is over. When asked why troops there still qualify for award of the campaign medal, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said: "The rationale is that it continues to be an active operation. ... It's transitioned into a different phase, but it's nonetheless a significant deployment and the campaign medal is warranted."