Marines who have served in Afghanistan or Iraq might need to update their record of personal decorations following newly published criteria for Long War campaign awards.
As published in the Marine Administrative Message 299/08, which was released in May, U.S. Forces Central Command has broken down operations in Afghanistan and Iraq into phases, and depending on the dates Marines were deployed there, they may rate more campaign stars for correlating medals.
“It’s a good thing to come out with something that can show multiple deployments,” said Master Sgt. Damian Moreno, a veteran of two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and senior advisor to the sergeant major of the Marine Corps. “It matches up with what has been done in the past.”
There is currently no deadline for Marines to update their campaign stars as it is ongoing, said Sgt. Jonah Aycox, unit diary chief for Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Arlington, Va. However, awards must be entered in a Marine's service record before the recipient can wear new medals or devices.
Active duty and selected Marine Corps reserve unit commanders are authorized to issue campaign stars to Marines who meet the criteria.
"The majority of our Marines have deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq, so the commanding officers and (administrative offices) have a large task ahead of them to ensure all Marines' records are properly updated," said Lee Freund, Headquarters Marine Corps military awards branch head in Quantico, Va.
Freund also said Marines who deployed in support of the Long War need to pay special attention to their time in country because they rate a campaign star for just spending 24 hours in one of the Afghanistan or Iraq phases.
"Marines should understand that the campaign stars weren't intended to reflect the number of deployments a Marine has made or the total amount of time the Marine spent in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Freund.
Military officials recognized that service members with multiple deployments wanted to have some visible recognition of each operation beyond the basic award of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal or the Iraq Campaign Medal, said Freund.
Therefore, the war in Afghanistan has been broken down into three phases and Iraq operations have been separated into four.
"This follows the same model as the engagement stars on the Korean Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal," said Freund.
The Afghanistan and Iraq Campaign Medals were approved by Congress in 2005. Marines who earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for deployments prior to May 1, 2005, may still elect to receive the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medal in lieu of the expeditionary medal.
However, if a Marine decides to retain the expeditionary medal from their deployment, that time will not be counted toward determining the number of campaign stars for either campaign medal.
Receiving the campaign and expeditionary medal for the same deployment period in Afghanistan or Iraq would be duplicating the intended use of these awards and is prohibited under Department of Defense policy, said Freund.
Individuals can check Marine Online to see if their campaign stars have already been updated.
Liberation of Afghanistan: Sept. 11, 2001 - Nov. 30, 2001
Consolidation I: Dec. 1, 2001- Sept. 30, 2006
Consolidation II: Oct. 1, 2006 - Present
Liberation of Iraq: March 19, 2003 - May 1, 2003
Transition of Iraq: May 2, 2003 - June 28, 2004
Iraqi Governance: June 29, 2004 - Dec. 15, 2005
National Resolution: Dec. 16, 2005 – Present