The Army Achievement Medal: History, Sample Citations, & More

In today’s post, I’d like to share everything I know about the Army Achievement Medal. 

As a small unit leader, you should educate yourself about the Army Achievement Medal. The AAM is an effective “reward” or “tool” to praise and recognize your Soldiers for doing a good job.  When used properly, it will have a major positive impact with the morale in your unit.

History of the Army Achievement Medal

The Army Achievement Medal was created in 1981. It is normally given for specific achievements that aren’t “worthy” of a Commendation Medal or Meritorious Service Medal. At the present moment in time, AAMs can be issued for contribution during combat. Prior to 2002, this option was not available.

The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States military. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal. ~ Military History

Who Can Approve an AAM?

The first O-5 Battalion Commander (LTC) in the chain of command is the approving authority for the AAM. Only commanders, not staff officers, can be the approval authority. However, anyone can recommend someone for an AAM.

Reasons to Submit Soldiers for an AAM

There are many reasons to submit Soldiers for an Army Achievement Medal. First and foremost, it costs you nothing to do. Anyone can write up an award in 30 to 60-minutes. Another reason to submit soldiers for an AAM is that it improves morale in your unit. I’ve never met anyone who turned down an Army medal and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like to be recognized for their achievements. In addition, Soldiers can earn valuable promotion points via their medals, so it’s a great way to help your Soldiers gain additional promotion points.

This award is used to recognize individual achievements. I’ve seen AAMs presented for:

  • Scoring a 300 on the APFT
  • Graduating School as an Honor Grad
  • Qualifying 40 of 40 with your assigned weapon
  • Performing a task above the Army Standards
  • Working on a project during “off duty” time
  • Doing a job in a  position above your current pay grade
  • And much more!

Ultimately, what “achievements” are worthy of the medal are at the discretion of your Battalion Commander, since they are the approving authority.

Who Can Receive an AAM?

Officers up to the rank of O-4 and enlisted Soldiers up to the rank of E-7 can receive the AAM. Verify the Soldier being submitted for the award is not flagged. Soldiers must also have a current APFT and weapons qualification (in most cases) on file, to be eligible for the award. This criteria changes from time-to-time, so check with your unit S1 or Readiness NCO.

The Approval Process

Once again, anyone can submit anyone for an award. However, most awards are normally written by a superior NCO or officer in the Soldier’s chain of command and then sent up the chain of command for the approval process. In most cases, the Company Commander will “recommend approval” or “recommend disapproval” but ultimately the Battalion Commander is the approving authority. Once the Battalion Commander approves the award, it is sent to S1 to type up the certificate and finalize the award, to make it ready for presentation. Please know that the Battalion Commander can approve, disapprove, or even “upgrade” the award if they choose to.

Sample AAM Citations

From time-to-time, we all need a little assistance in articulating the accomplishments of our Soldiers. Listed below, I’ve provided numerous sample Army Achievement Medal citations. I’ve tried to provide a wide assortment of sample AAM citations.

MGS Gunnery

For outstanding performance of duties during MGS Gunnery 2013 while serving as Battalion VCE and Range Operations NCOIC. Your attention to detail, technical expertise, administrative abilities and coordination of efforts contributed to the overall success of the Battalion MGS as evident through their outstanding scores. Your outstanding performance reflect great credit upon you, the 2nd Battalion 112th Infantry, the PAANG and the United States Army.

MGS Vehicle Commander

For exceptionally, meritorious service during the period XX October 2010 to XX October 2013 while assigned as MGS Vehicle Commander. SSG Homer’s outstanding initiative, leadership and technical proficiency have been instrumental in the organizational improvement of the Battalion MGS crews and their ability to meet their requirements. SSG Homer’s superb performance and professionalism has contributed significantly to the success of his Platoon and reflect great credit upon himself, his Command and the United States Army.

Battalion Master Gunner

For exceptionally meritorious service while serving as the Battalion Master Gunner for the 2nd Battalion 112th Infantry during the period XX January 2011 to XX January 2013 and assisting the S-3 during MGS Gunnery Training at Fort Knox, KY.

Recruiting Assistant & Strength Management NCO

For meritorious achievement while serving as a Recruiting Assistant and Strength Management NCO for the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team during the period XX February 2012 to XX February 2013. SGT Markus was instrumental in improving the overall strength and retention efforts throughout the Brigade through his professional technical assistance. His efforts contributed significantly to improving the readiness of the 56th SBCT through increased re-enlistments, extensions and new recruits. SGT Markus’s dedicated service reflects great credit upon himself, the 56th SBCT and the PAANG.

Honor Graduate, Pathfinder Course

For meritorious achievement as Honor Graduate of the US Army Pathfinder course Class 13-001. Your extraordinary efforts and accomplishments reflect distinction upon yourself, your unit, the PAANG, and the United States Army.

G4 Plans Officer

For exceptionally meritorious service while performing duties in the G3, Directorate, Plans, Operations and Training from 24 June to 31 October 2008. CPT Holmes was instrumental in assisting with managing the NGB Title 10 Short Tour ADOS packets, writing OPORDs, impacting daily state functions and emergency operations, and creating the template for the Armory Capabilities Summary, among other contributions. CPT Holmes is a superb officer whose positive attitude and exceptional management skill-set bring great credit upon himself and the Maryland Army National Guard.

S4 Deployment Prep

For exceptionally meritorious service in preparation for deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom while assigned to the 64th Forward Support Battalion. 1LT Holmes’ hard work, leadership, and meticulous attention to detail reflects great credit upon himself, the 64th Forward Support Battalion, and the United States Army.

NTC Rotation

For exceptional meritorious service in support of HHD, 64th Forward Support Battalion during NTC 03-01. 1LT Holmes’ initiative, hard work, ethic, and “can do” attitude had a direct impact on the success of the battalion. This reflects great credit upon himself, the 64th Forward Support Battalion and the United States Army.

Division Capstone Exercise

For exceptional meritorious service in support of the Division Capstone Exercise at Fort Hood, Texas. 2LT Holmes’ hard work and initiative contributed greatly to the success of the 4th Infantry Division’s Training Event. This reflects great credit upon himself, the 64th Forward Support Battalion and the United States Army.

Hopefully, these example AAM citations give you some ideas you can expand upon for your own unique situation.

I think the key to success when writing AAMs is to use numbers, facts, and figures in your AAM citation. Be as specific as you can. Put some serious thought into it and then get input from the recommended Soldier or from your superiors. However, don’t let perfection keep you from doing it. Good enough is good enough. In addition, every Battalion Commander has different views and policies for what they will and will not approve when it comes to AAMs. Find out what they like and simply format your AAMs that way.

If you have some sample AAM Citations, please share it with us in the comments below. It would benefit our entire community.

If you need to replace your AAM medal, you can order one on Amazon here.

army achievement medal

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, AAMs are a great way for small unit leaders to recognize their Soldiers. They are simple, straight forward, and normally quite easy to get approved. If you have any thoughts or considerations, or example AAM citations, please leave a comment below to share it with our visitors. Thank you.

Other Must Read Articles
  1. The Army Commendation Medal
  2. The Certificate of Achievement
  3. The Good Conduct Medal
  4. The Selling of Military Awards
  5. Military Career Tips
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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