In 2019, U.S. Air Force officials announced nomination criteria for the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal following the official establishment of the decoration May 22 of that same year. The Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal was approved by the Secretary of the Air Force to recognize U.S. Air Force military members in a non-deployed status who directly participated in a Department of Defense combat operation from a remote location.
The medal was part of an effort to recognize U.S. Air Force military members who do not deploy, but have clear impact on a Department of Defense combat operation from a remote location. In an Air Force press release, then Air Force officials talked about the need to recognize remote contributors.
“Our remote operations community makes vital contributions to our national security and the security of our allies,” said then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein who is now retired. “These airmen play a crucial role in every campaign we undertake, and this medal is for them.”
Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal Eligibility
The Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal is awarded to airmen serving in remotely piloted aircraft, cyber, space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance career fields, who create direct combat effects from remote locations and lead to strategic outcomes or the delivery of lethal force.
In some circumstances, according to the Air Force, airmen from other career fields may be considered for the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Service members may be awarded the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal for actions completed on or after Sept. 11, 2001, while also serving under the following conditions:
1) Was assigned or attached to a unit directly in support of a DoD combat operation as approved by the chief of staff of the Air Force
2) Was serving in a remotely piloted aircraft; cyber; space or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance career field
3) Personally provided hands-on employment of a weapon system that has direct and immediate impact on combat operations (“hands-on” defined as employment of a weapons system, including remote employment, or other activities that had a direct, immediate and on-site effect on the outcome of an engagement or similar operation)
4) Was not physically exposed to hostile actions or at risk of exposure to hostile action.
Airmen who have received a DoD or Air Force campaign or expeditionary medal or ribbon for the same period of service are not eligible to receive the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal. Airmen will wear the first Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal award and will wear a bronze service star for any subsequent medal awarded to recognize each qualifying DOD combat operation in which the airman participated for one or more days.
Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal Qualifying Operations
Combat operations qualifying for the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal include:
• Operation Enduring Freedom, Sept. 11, 2001 – to be determined
• Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 29, 2003 – Aug. 31, 2010
• Operation New Dawn, Sept. 1, 2010 – Dec. 31, 2011
• Nomad Shadow, Nov. 5, 2007 – TBD
• Freedom’s Sentinel, Jan. 1, 2015 – TBD
• Operation Inherent Resolve, June 15, 2014 – TBD
• Odyssey Lightning, Aug. 1, 2016 – Dec. 19, 2016
• Pacific Eagle – Philippines, Oct. 5, 2017 – TBD
The ribbon of the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal is predominantly blue, with a wide light blue center stripe flanked on either side by a narrow white stripe. The colors represent the U.S. Air Force.
The medal of the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal bears a bronze color 1 1/4 inch metal disc bearing a starburst. The starburst behind the grid-lined sphere conveys power and the ability to remotely effect the battlefield, anywhere in the world. The delta followed by the contrail portrays the remotely piloted aircraft and weapons systems. The Hap Arnold symbol denotes the U.S. Air Force.
The reverse bears a circular inscription, "COMBAT EFFECTS CAMPAIGN" above, and "UNITED STATES AIR FORCE" below, and a “Hap Arnold” symbol above a stacked inscription that reads "REMOTE COMBAT SUPPORT." A pair of beveled deltas flank the circular inscription.
The Air Force also has the “R” device which is awarded for meritorious achievement in a combat mission by someone who is a remote participant.
The “R” device is awarded for remote actions, but there must be “direct, hands-on employment.” Operations of this nature include remotely piloted aircraft and cyber missions.
The device is affixed to non-combat performance awards for performance in any domain. The individual receiving the award with the “R” device cannot have been exposed to hostile action while engaged in military operations against the enemy. Nor can they have been involved in a conflict against an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly forces engaged in operations with an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not an aggressor.
Airmen in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance field are all eligible if their duties fit the criteria.
The “R” device award is retroactive to Jan. 7, 2016. The “R” device is higher on the order of precedence of military awards than the Remote Combat Effects Campaign Medal since it is affixed to a non-combat performance award to distinguish that the award was earned for direct hands-on employment during combat and that the employment had impact. Awards like the Air Force Commendation Medal, for example, can be presented with an “R” device.
The Remote Combat Effect Campaign Medal does not receive an “R” device. One, the Remote Combat Effect Campaign Medal is a campaign medal and the other, the “R” device, goes on personal achievement decorations.