Five different versions of the Achievement Medal are awarded: one for Joint Service, Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard
|Awarded by United States Department of Defense|
|Eligibility||Military personnel only|
|Awarded for||"Meritorious service or achievement in either combat or noncombat situations based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature but which does not warrant a Commendation Medal or higher."|
|Established||U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (1961)
U.S. Coast Guard (1963)
U.S. Army (1981)
U.S. Air Force (1981)
U.S. Joint Service (1983)
|Next (higher)||Commendation Medals|
|Next (lower)||Navy and Marine Corps: Combat Action Ribbon
Army: Prisoner of War Medal
Air Force: Combat Action Medal
Coast Guard: Commandant's Letter of Commendation Ribbon
Service ribbons for the Joint Service, Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Achievement Medals
The Achievement Medal is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. The Achievement Medal was first proposed as a means to recognize the contributions of junior officers and enlisted personnel who were not eligible to receive the higher Commendation Medal or the Meritorious Service Medal.
Each military service issues its own version of the Achievement Medal, with a fifth version authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense for joint military activity. The Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal. Since the Achievement Medal is designated as an award solely for junior personnel, it is generally only awarded to officers in the pay grade of O-4 and below and enlisted personnel below the grade of E-7. Award authority rests with local commanders, granting a broad discretion of when and for what action the Achievement Medal may be awarded.
The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM), is the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps' version of the Achievement Medal. The United States Navy was the first branch of the United States Armed Forces to award such a medal, doing so in 1961, when it was dubbed the “Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal”. This title was shortened in 1967 to simply, the "Navy Achievement Medal". On 19 August 1994, to recognize those of the United States Marine Corps who had received the Navy Achievement Medal, the name of the decoration was officially changed to the "Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal". The award is referred to in shorthand speech as a "NAM".
Chain of Command approval
From its inception in the early 1960s to 2002, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal could not be approved by the commanding officers of ships, submarines, aviation squadron, or shore activities who held the rank of Commander (O-5). Awards for crewmembers had to be submitted to the Commodore or Air Wing Commander or the first appropriate O-6 in the chain of command for approval, who then signed the award and returned it. This led to a dramatically lower awarding rate when compared to similar size units in the Army or Air Force awarding their own achievement medals, especially considering that those services did not establish their respective achievement medals until the 1980s. Since 2002 the commanding officers of aviation squadrons and ships have had the authority to award NAMs without submission to higher authority. For the Army, battalion commanders (or the first O-5 in a soldier's chain of command) is the approving authority for the Army Achievement Medal.
U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force
The United States Coast Guard created its own Achievement Medal in 1967; the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force issued their own versions of the award with the Army Achievement Medal in 1981 and Air Force Achievement Medal in 1980. Effective 11 September 2001, the Army Achievement Medal may be awarded in a combat area. Since this change over sixty thousand Army Achievement Medals have been awarded in theaters of operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Joint Service Achievement Medal
The following devices may be authorized to be worn on the following achievement medals suspension ribbon and service ribbon:
- Army Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters
- Air Force Achievement Medal, for additional awards - oak leaf clusters
- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars
- Coast Guard Achievement Medal, for additional awards - 5/16 inch stars
- Joint Service Achievement Medal (all service branches), for additional awards - oak leaf clusters
- Air Force Achievement Medal - "V" Device
- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device (Combat "V")
- Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Combat Distinguishing Device (Combat "V")
- Coast Guard Achievement Medal - Operational Distinguishing Device ("O" device) 
- Awards and decorations of the United States government
- Awards and decorations of the United States military
- Awards and decorations of the United States Coast Guard
- SECNAVINST 1650.1H - NAVY AND MARINE CORPS AWARDS MANUAL (PDF) (Report). United States Navy. August 22, 2006. p. 13. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
- "Error". pentagon.mil.
- "Factsheets : Air Force Achievement Medal". af.mil.
- 578.21 Army Achievement Medal
- Awards and Decorations Statistics by Conflict, Operation or Incident Archived August 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Error". pentagon.mil.
- "Factsheets : Joint Service Achievement Medal". af.mil.
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