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Afghanistan: Military Decorations

Volume 471: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the criteria are for award of the (a) ISAF medal and (b) Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan; for what reasons the ISAF medal may not be worn; and if he will make a statement. (180909)

The Operational Service Medal (OSM)—Afghanistan was instituted to recognise service in Afghanistan and in support of operations in that country from 11 September 2001. The qualifying criteria were initially published in Command Paper 5939 in September 2003 and amended in Command Paper 6935 in October 2006. Copies were placed in the Library of the House.

Subsequently, NATO offered their ISAF medal to coalition troops taking part in NATO operations in Afghanistan from 1 June 2003. Qualification for the medal is completion of at least 30 days continuous or accumulated service.

One of the key principles laid down by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is that permission will not be given for UK citizens to accept a foreign award if they have received, or are expected to receive, a UK award for the same service.

As the NATO medal now covers the same service as the national OSM—Afghanistan and thereby contravenes the ‘double medalling’ rule. UK personnel who are given the medal may retain it, but may not wear it.