Friday, February 2, 2007

TOP STORY >>Airmen to see combat medal in April

Staff Sgt. C. TODD LOPEZ
Air Force Print News

WASHINGTON — Since the Air Force started manning convoy operations in support of the war on terror, more Airmen have had an opportunity to put their rifle training to use in real-world scenarios. Today, explosive ordnance disposal and security forces Airmen, along with those performing in-lieu-of taskings, have joined battlefield Airmen working “outside the wire” in Iraq and Afghanistan and are regularly involved in combat situations as part of their duty.

It is for these Airmen, as well as for those who fly, that the Air Force has created the Air Force Combat Action Medal, said Gen. Roger A. Brady, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.  “There are people coming under enemy fire, but we do not have an Air Force way to recognize the reality of their experience,” General Brady said. “So (Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley) has asked us to develop an appropriate recognition, a combat medal, and we have done that.”  

To develop criteria for the award and to get a better understanding of what Airmen were looking for in combat recognition, the Air Force consulted with combat-experienced Airmen.  “We gathered feedback from Airmen, aviators and support personnel, active duty, Guard, and Reserve, who’ve been in combat — some who’ve received combat recognition from other services, and some who haven’t,” said Maj. Randall Smith, chief of the Air Force uniforms and recognition branch. “Their feedback was critical in ensuring the recognition we developed met General Moseley’s requirements. We also heard from Air Force senior leadership, both officer and enlisted.”  

General Brady said the AFCAM will be unveiled sometime in April. Then, as part of the unveiling ceremony, some Airmen will be awarded the new medal. At that time, the Air Force will begin to process additional applications for the award. In order for an Airman to wear the AFCAM, a narrative explanation of the Airman’s involvement in combat activities must be submitted by a person with first-hand knowledge of the incident. The application will be processed through the chain of command and eventually be approved or disapproved by the Commander of Air Force Forces.  

The AFCAM is for Airmen that have directly participated in active combat, either on the ground or in the air, as part of their official duty. Airmen on a convoy escort operation that takes fire, for instance, would be eligible to apply for the award.  
“This is for people who are in combat as a part of their duty,” General Brady said. The AFCAM will be the highest-level Air Force individual award to not earn points under the Weighted Airmen Promotion System, said Major Smith.  “There was a strong consensus that this recognition should not be tied to promotion points, but should be tied to a meaning greater than that”, the major said.

Airman will wear the AFCAM on the mess dress uniform. The ribbon for the AFCAM can be worn on the blue or service dress uniform. Airmen can apply for the award to recognize participation in combat activities dating back as far as Sept. 11, 2001.


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