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AF releases criteria for new service medal

Graphic of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. (courtesy graphic)

Graphic of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. (courtesy graphic)

Graphic of the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. (courtesy graphic)

Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal Symbolism: The bronze medal conveys the honorary recognition of high performance while contributing to the success of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrence mission. The laurel wreath symbolized achievement, recognizing the Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel who support nuclear deterrence. The atomic symbol indicated the core responsibility of nuclear surety. The star with the disc denotes the Air Force. The triangle on the reverse alludes to the nuclear triad. The blue represents the nuclear dominance in the sky; red represents the power and passion in which we provide nuclear deterrence; green represents the earth and our global capabilities; gold represents the wealth of our nuclear enterprise - our people.

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials released nomination criteria for the new Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, following Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James' May 27, 2014, authorization.

The medal will be awarded to individuals for their direct support of nuclear deterrence operations.

"This service medal provides a clearly visible way to recognize the dedication and professionalism of our Airmen who are the guardians of our nation's nuclear deterrence. Because of our success, often times nuclear deterrence operations can be overlooked as a critical function," said Col. Zannis Pappas, the missile operations career field manager. "The medal acknowledges the special challenges faced by those Airmen charged with supporting the nuclear enterprise and will be a point of pride by all who wear it."

Service members may be awarded the nuclear deterrence medal if they were assigned, deployed or mobilized to a wing, center or below in support of the nuclear enterprise for 120 consecutive days or 179 nonconsecutive days. Subsequent awards will only be authorized when a permanent change of station to a qualifying unit has occurred.

"The Air Force continues to demonstrate its support to the most vital part of the nuclear enterprise - the Airmen," said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration. "This medal exists as a tangible way to acknowledge the importance of this mission and the dedication and pride that the men and women in the nuclear community show to their country. Having secretary of the Air Force-level interest testifies to the importance of this decoration and impact on nuclear operations."

The medal will be worn with an "N" device for those who dispatched to a missile complex for 179 nonconsecutive days in direct support of intercontinental ballistic missile operations or are in direct support of nuclear laden aircraft. Only one "N" device will be worn, regardless of the number of qualifying assignments. An oak leaf cluster will be worn for subsequent awards, which will only be authorized when a PCS has occurred.

Eligibility for the medal is retroactive to Dec. 27, 1991. Nominations for currently serving Airmen will be processed through their respective chain of command.

A member's current group commander is considered the awarding authority for the medal. Retired or separated Airmen can submit a request submitted to the Air Force Personnel Center recognition section for validation. The award can be presented posthumously, as well, so family members of deceased Airmen can also contact AFPC for information.

The medal is currently under development with a projected date of availability through the Defense Supply System of March 2015.

For more information and full eligibility criteria, go to myPers. Guard, Reserve, retired and separated Airmen and their family members may contact the Air Reserve Personnel Center at 800-525-0102, for assistance.

(Information courtesy of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office)