The Army Commendation Medal is a “mid level” award designed for acts of heroism and meritorious achievements. It was created in 1945 (for the U.S. Army). When used properly, this is a very effective award to recognize soldier achievements. Unfortunately, most leaders don’t know much about the ARCOM, or they don’t use it effectively. In the paragraphs below, I want to teach you the basics about the Army Commendation Medal so you know the ins and outs of how it works.
- Normally, the first O-6 Commander in the chain of command is the approving authority
- ARCOM is worth 20 promotion points
- All enlisted soldiers and officers up to the rank of Colonel can receive the award
- The ARCOM is higher than an Army Achievement Medal and lower than the Meritorious Service Medal
- Up until 1960 this award was only a ribbon, not a medal
There are many different achievements that can qualify for an ARCOM. Ultimately, it is up to the O-6 Commander to determine what they will require. I’ve seen ARCOMs issued for PCS awards, for doing a good job at Annual Training and for preparing/passing large inspections. From my personal experience, I’ve noticed that this award is typically reserved for E-5s and above and company grade officers. Of course, there are sometimes exceptions to the rule. In combat, you can also receive an ARCOM for acts of valor.
Sample ARCOM Citation
Please note that this is a sample that I made up myself.
For exceptional meritorious service while serving a Supply Sergeant with A Company, 735th Quartermaster Battalion from 1 October 2008 to 3 January 2011. SSG Smith maintained 100% accountability of 416 different MTOE items valued at $7.5 million. He helped the unit deploy to Iraq and return with zero equipment losses. In addition, he helped the unit receive the Army Supply of Excellence Award. This reflects great duty upon SSG Smith, his unit, and the United States Army.
My best advice to you is to use the ARCOM to award significant achievements by the junior leaders in your unit. Don’t issue EVERYONE an ARCOM for the sake of it. For smaller achievements use the AAM, the COA or unit coin. For bigger achievements, use the ARCOM. It’s worth 20 promotion points and is a “quality” award that will be appreciated by your good soldiers.
If you’ve ever received an ARCOM, I would love to hear from you. Please share your citation or story with the rest of our community. Just leave a comment to this post to do so. If you have any questions, you can also post those below and I will do my best to provide an answer.