WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Service members who serve or have served in Iraq or Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve will receive the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in Tampa, Florida, March 30.
Carter announced the new award during the U.S. Central Command change of command ceremony. Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III transferred the command's flag to Army Gen. Joe Votel.
"It is fitting then, that as we mark the change of command between these two leaders that we introduce the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal," Carter said. "I am pleased to announce today, by the president's order and upon the chairman's and my recommendation, that our sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines serving in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve are now eligible for this medal and distinction."
The award is retroactive to June 15, 2014, and is for service members based in Iraq or Syria, those who flew missions over those countries and those who served in contiguous waters for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days, officials said.
The award distinctly recognizes service members battling terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Service members who were killed or were medically evacuated from those countries due to wounds or injuries immediately qualify for the award, as do members who engaged in combat.
Previously, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal recognized service in Iraq and Syria and service members in neighboring countries, such as Turkey, will continue to receive that award.
The president establishes campaign medals for large-scale and long-duration combat actions or operations. Inherent Resolve meets the criteria, officials said. The entire operational area has been subject to lethal combat operations. U.S. forces are executing an extensive air campaign in the region. A U.S. division-plus force is providing command and control, intelligence and other advisory services.
The award is separate from the Iraq Campaign Medal awarded for service during operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, officials said.