The U.S. fight against the Islamic State group does not have its own military campaign designation, leaving troops deployed to the region as ineligible to receive certain medals for their service.
Roughly 1,600 troops are currently in the region as “advisers” to the Iraqi military, but there isn’t a medal for the work they will be doing. Personnel deployed to the Middle East since 9/11 were eligible for Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Iraq Campaign Medals, among others, but the current mission is bereft of such awards, The Hill reported Wednesday.
Veterans groups voiced their displeasure with the exclusions to the paper.
“If that’s not a terrorist organization, and this is not a war against ISIL, then I don’t know what this is,” said John Bircher, spokesman for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, The Hill reported. Mr. Bircher is a Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
Until the fight against the Islamic State group is given an official designation, however, recognition for the troops’ efforts via medals and ribbons is not an option.
“That’s usually one of the first things, you give it a name: Operation Desert Shield, Operation Allied Force, Operation Enduring Freedom. … I would hope somebody’s working on that as well. […] The troops are asking the same question. There are soldiers, sailors, and airmen out there wondering ‘What do we call this?’ ” Navy Cmdr. Daniel Dolan told the paper.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen told The Hill on Monday: “The department is currently working with U.S. Central Command regarding awards and decorations for those conducting operations in Iraq and Syria. No decisions have yet been made.”
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.