Background On March 15, 2007 the secretary of the Air Force approved establishment of the Air Force Combat Action Medal to recognize any military member of the Air Force (airman basic thru colonel) who actively participated in combat (ground or air).
The principal eligibility criterion is that the individual must have been under direct and hostile fire while operating in unsecured space (outside the defended perimeter), or physically engaging hostile forces with direct and lethal fire.
The Commander, Air Force Forces is the award authority for the AFCAM. The award criteria for the AFCAM are similar to that of other U.S. services but are more specific with regard to combat conditions criteria. Personnel who earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge or Combat Action Ribbon while assigned with the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps may submit a copy of that award, along with other documentation required in this message, to the COMAFFOR for consideration for award of the AFCAM. The AFCAM may be awarded to members from the other U.S. armed forces and foreign soldiers serving in a U.S. Air Force unit, provided they meet the award criteria.
Combat conditions defined: For the purposes of this award, the combat conditions are met when:
-- Individual(s) deliberately go outside the defended perimeter to conduct official duties - either ground or air, and
-- Come under enemy attack by lethal weapons while performing those duties, and
-- Are at risk of grave danger
-- Individual(s) are defending the base (on the defended perimeter), and
-- Come under fire and engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire, and
-- Are at risk of grave danger; also meet the intent of combat conditions for the award
Additionally, personnel in ground operations who actively engage the enemy with direct and lethal fire may qualify even if no direct fire is taken--as long as there was risk of grave danger and other criteria are met. Central to the integrity of this combat recognition is the adherence to these combat conditions prerequisites.
Criteria - ground:
-- Individual must be in combat conditions as defined in combat conditions defined above. Combat must take place in a combat zone defined as a geographic area designated by the president via executive order or a qualified hazardous duty area in which a member is receiving Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay. Individual must be physically present, at risk of grave danger and performing in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement
-- Personnel outside the defended perimeter must be fired upon by the enemy with lethal weapons; returning fire is situation dependent and not necessarily a precondition of award. Risk of grave danger to the individual must be detailed in the award submission
-- Encampments, compounds and protected areas (inside the defended perimeter) will normally not qualify as venues for this award unless the individual is serving in a defensive capacity, taking fire and engaging the enemy. Augmenting a defensive fighting position and taking fire, regardless official duties, would also qualify as combat action if all other criteria were met. Receiving mortars, responding to alarm condition, reporting to bunkers, do not independently constitute combat action for the purpose of this award. However, should combat conditions arise out of such events then exceptions to policy with full justification can be submitted
-- Personnel eligible for the award of the Purple Heart do not automatically qualify for the combat action medal. Purple Heart recipients must apply for the AFCAM through the appropriate award channels.
Criteria - air:
-- Individual must be flying as authorized aircrew members on aeronautical orders in direct support of a combat zone and in combat as define in combat conditions. Combat must take place in a combat zone defined as a geographic area designated by the president via executive order or a qualified hazardous duty area in which a member is receiving Imminent Danger Pay or Hostile Fire Pay. Individual must be physically present, at risk of grave danger and performing satisfactorily in accordance with the prescribed rules of engagement
-- Individual must be performing assigned duties. Traveling passengers, including aircrew manifested as passengers, on an aircraft are not eligible based solely on their presence if the aircraft were to come under fire.
The AFCAM may be awarded for qualifying service from Sept. 11, 2001 to a date to be determined. Retroactive awards prior to Sept. 11, 2001 are not authorized.
There is no minimum time-in-theater requirement to qualify for the AFCAM. Only one AFCAM may be awarded during a qualifying period. Subsequent qualifying periods will be determined by the secretary of the Air Force. Only one award per operation is authorized. Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are considered one operation. Subsequent operations will be approved by the Air Force chief of staff and will be indicated by the use of gold star on the ribbon and medal.
Requests for exceptions to policy established here or in future instructions must be justified and forwarded though command channels. Home station will route request through major command commander to the COMAFFOR to vice commander of the Air Force. The Air Force vice commander has been designated decisional authority by the secretary of the Air Force for all AFCAM exception to policy requests. In-theater requests for exception will route through COMAFFOR to the Air Force vice commander.
Wear criteria: The AFCAM is awarded as a medal and ribbon only and is worn according to current medal and ribbon instructions. There will be no patch or badge equivalent for wear on the ABU, BDU and other functional uniforms that are worn for daily duties and deployments. Further guidance will be added to AFI 36-2803. The AFCAM shall be worn directly between the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Presidential Unit Citation.
Authorized device: Gold star
Weighted Airman Promoted System Point Value: 0
The Official Web Site of the Air Force Personnel Center