U.S. military personnel are now authorized to accept and wear the NATO Medal for taking part in Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan.
Operation Resolute Resolve began Jan. 1, 2015, and focuses on training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces in key areas such as force generation, sustainment, intelligence, strategy and policy planning.
U.S. Army soldiers, and other service members, must have met NATO Medal eligibility criteria and been awarded the medal by NATO Headquarters or a NATO theater commander who has been delegated award authority by the supreme allied commander, Europe, according to an Army Human Resources Command message.
Service members must have been in Afghanistan as part of a national unit in support of the NATO operation. They are eligible for the NATO Medal, provided they meet the required time in theater -- 30 continuous days or accumulated service).
Units must still have submitted the NATO request forms through Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or SHAPE, to be awarded the NATO Medal for this Task Force. Most soldiers now in theater are either under the NATO Commander, and if not, are in national units but in support of NATO with the exception of some Special Operations Forces (SOF) units, according to the Army's HRC website.
The medal, "provided by a NATO representative, may include a ribbon clasp denoting the specific operation for which the award was made," according the Army message.
U.S. service members are authorized to accept and retain the ribbon clasp if presented, "however, U.S. Army soldiers are not authorized to wear the ribbon clasp and may only wear the basic medal or service ribbon," according to the message.
A bronze service star will be affixed to the NATO Medal suspension ribbon and service medal to recognize participation in subsequent Department of Defense approved NATO operations, according to the message.
--Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.