The Joint Service Achievement Medal: 10 Cool Facts

Before we start today’s post, I thought that since we are talking about Joint Service, we would lead with a bit of laughter:

Same Orders, Different Perceptions

One reason the Armed Forces have difficulty with Joint Operations is: there are different meanings to the same terms.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff told each branch to secure a building.

The Navy turned out the lights and locked the doors.

The Army occupied the building so no one could enter it.

The Marines assaulted and captured the building. They then set up defenses using suppressive fire, established communication channels and prepared for close combat in case the situation called for it.

The Air Force were the quickest to act on the order; they took out a 3 year lease with an option to buy.

Now don’t lie and say you are not laughing a little bit.

In today’s post, we are going to talk about 10 cool facts of the Joint Service Achievement Medal.

1: Caspar Weinberger. In 1982, the Director of the Defense Communication Agency, Lieutenant General William Hilsman proposed that another Joint Service award be instituted so that the Joint Service Commendation Medal would have a higher stature. There was a plethora of debate, but in 1983, Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger established the Joint Service Achievement Medal.

2: Who designed? Upon being established, the idea for the Joint Service Achievement Medal was sent to the Institute of Heraldry. Promptly, Jay Morris of the Institute designed the Medal, and Donald Borja sculpted it.

3: The design of the Joint Service Achievement Medal. The design of the Joint Service Achievement Medal is quite similar to the Joint Service Commendation Medal. It is a bronze 12 pointed star. In the middle is the same Eagle adapted from the Department of Defense seal. The Eagle has a shield for a breastplate, and it holds 3 arrows with its talons. The ribbon has a center red stripe and going outwards, it has light blue, white, green, white and dark blue stripes.

4: Pay grades. While the Joint Service Commendation Medal is normally awarded to service members of high rank, the Joint Service Achievement Medal is only awarded to service members below the rank of O-6 and assigned to qualifying Joint commands or Joint operations.

5: Equal to. The Joint Service Achievement Medal is equal in stature to Achievement Medals from each of the service branches, but when worn, the Joint Service Achievement Medal sits above any other Achievement Medals.

6: Precedence. In terms of how the ribbon for the Joint Service Achievement Medal is worn on a uniform, it sits below and Commendation Medals, and in the Army, it is above the Prisoner of War Medal. In the Navy and Marines, it sits above the Combat Action Ribbon, and with the Air Force…above the Combat Action Medal.

7: More than 1 Joint Service Achievement Medal. If any service member is awarded more than 1 Joint Service Achievement Medal, the 2nd and beyond are denoted with oak leaf clusters.

8: Foreign military. Foreign military members can also be awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal. If they were permanently assigned to Joint Staff or Joint Combatants Command, they are eligible. There will be a background check on these personnel before the award is given.

9: Who can award the Joint Service Achievement Medal? While the Medal is awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense, there are a number of entities that can award this Medal including:

  • The Secretary of Defense or his/her assistants.

  • Designee for Service members assigned to multilateral and bilateral organizations.

  • The Director of Joint Staff.

  • The Commander in Chiefs of Unified or Combined Commands for Service members.

  • Supreme Commanders of any Joint Allied Command.

  • The Director of any Defense agencies.

  • The President of the National War College, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and the Armed Forces Staff College.

  • The Director of the Military Postal Services Agency.

  • A Secretary of any Military Department who has been designated as the Executive Agent of any Joint function.

  • The Commander of Military Entrance Processing Command.

This authority can also be delegated down to any service member in the rank of O-6 or above.

10: Citations. Below, I will provide an example of a proper citation for a service member being awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal.

SERGEANT MENDEZ, UNITED STATES ARMY, DISTINGUISHED EXCEPTIONAL MERITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT WHILE ASSIGNED AS A VEHICLE REPAIR TECHNICIAN ASSIGNED TO TASK FORCE 93 B COMPANY FROM JUNE 2001 TO MAY 2002 WHILE SAID COMPANY WAS ASSIGNED TO OPERATION JOINT MASQUERADE. DURING THIS OPERATION, MENDEZ SUCCESSFULLY AIDED AND TRAINED SOUTH KOREAN TECHNICIANS ON THE MAKEUP AND TECHNICAL NATURE NEEDED TO REPAIR THEIR VEHICLES.

MENDEZ PROVIDED HIS CONTACT AND WAS OFTEN CALLED TO AID DURING HOURS HE WAS OFF DUTY. HE WOULD SEE THAT THE REPAIR WAS PERFORMED CORRECTLY AND THAT THE TECHNICIANS UNDERSTOOD.

SERGEANT MENDEZ’S ACHIEVEMENTS SHOW GREAT CREDIT UPON HIMSELF, UPON TASK FORCE 93 B COMPANY, UPON THE UNITED STATES ARMY AND UPON UNITED STATES JOINT COMMAND.

Final Thoughts

Personally, I believe the Joint Service Achievement Medal was a wise move by the Secretary of Defense and the United States Military. It is awarded to service members of lower ranks that perform the duties and responsibilities that make the Armed Forces of the United States the greatest in the world.

We would like to hear from any who have earned the Joint Service Achievement Medal. Tell us about the Joint Operation you were involved in, and what actions earned you the medal.

We have discovered that Joint Military Operations are becoming more the norm than they were years ago. That means that this award will probably become much more prevalent.

Thank you for your service, and please leave your suggestions and comments below.

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