Pentagon Issues New Medal For U.S. Troops Fighting ISIS

The campaign against ISIS has already involved thousands of U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq, and the Pentagon has created a new medal in order to honor these and future troops.

The Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal is for troops who have been deployed to Iraq and Syria specifically to support operations against ISIS, according to Military Times. The medal will be given to those in the military who have operated in airspace, territorial waters, and on the ground in those areas since June 15, 2014.

Those who have been supporting the operations against ISIS must have been doing so for 30 consecutive days in Syria or Iraq or 60 nonconsecutive days in those same areas.

A Pentagon statement clarifies who else may be eligible for the award after fighting ISIS.

“Service members who were killed or were medically evacuated due to wounds or injuries immediately qualify for the award, as do members who engaged in combat.”

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce 11,000 troops who are already eligible for the medal to award those who have fought against ISIS.

Ash Carter
Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce thousands of troops who are already eligible for the medal to honor those who have fought against ISIS. Around 11.000 troops are already eligible for the Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The obverse side of the medal shows a hand gripping a sword piercing a scorpion, presumably ISIS, through the middle from below. According to the Washington Post, the sword is known as the Sword of Liberation. The hand holding the sword seems to be covered in a type of armor. The reverse side of the medal features an eagle on top of a sign which reads, “For Service.”

The medal is a bronze disc one and one-fourth inches in diameter and is engraved with the images described above. The ribbon for the medal representing service in support of the war on ISIS is decorated with blue, teal, sand, and orange stripes.

Other troops which were previously deployed to Iraq had received a different medal. The Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal was given to those troops, despite their support in fighting ISIS. Those troops may trade in their medals if they choose to do so, or keep the medals originally given to them.

Right now there aren’t more than 3,870 U.S. troops in Iraq, and including those on temporary deployment, there are around 5,000. Those on temporary deployment in the fight against ISIS may still be eligible for the medal after 30 straight days.

To be clear, the White House still continues to say that troops are only in a supportive role in the fight against ISIS, although they still receive combat pay and can wear combat patches. This medal is not to honor a combat role, according to Foreign Policy.

U.S. soldier trains fighters
Troops from Iraq and even rebels from Syria receive training from U.S. soldiers in order to fight ISIS properly and effectively. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

In June 2014, the U.S. began flying manned aircraft over Iraq and sent a small number of troops into the area in response to the growing ISIS threat. Since then, the U.S. has led a coalition of 14 countries to fight ISIS, mainly through the use of airstrikes. The Daily Beast reported that the U.S. also sent more troops back to Iraq to “assess and to advise [Iraqi security forces] as they confront [ISIS] and the complex security situation on the ground.”

The fate of future U.S. troops fighting ISIS on the ground remains up in the air, as a different president may mean a different fighting tactic in order to defeat ISIS in 2017.

[Photo by John MooreGetty Images News]

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