The United States Armed Forces authorize certain medal and ribbon devices that may be worn if authorized on a defined set of United States military decorations and awards. The devices vary between 3⁄16 inch to 13⁄32 inch in size and are usually attached to suspension and service ribbons of medals and to unit award ribbons. The devices are usually made of brass or metal alloys that appear gold, silver, or bronze in color with either a dull or polished look. The devices may denote additional awards of the same decoration or award, an award for valor or meritorious combat service, participation in a particular campaign, periods of honorable service, specific events, and other special meanings. These are sometimes referred to as award devices, but are most commonly referred to in service regulations and Department of Defense instructions simply as "devices" for awards and decorations.
On January 7, 2016, the Secretary of Defense approved two new devices for medals and ribbons: a "C" Device which will be affixed to multi-purpose performance awards in recognition of meritorious service under combat conditions and, an "R" Device which will be affixed to non-combat performance awards to specifically recognize remote but direct impact on combat operations. The "R" device is to be a bronze letter "R", 1⁄4 inch in size. Both of the devices will be worn if authorized for wear, on specific decorations. The services have a year to implement these changes.
The following is a list of U.S. military service devices for medals and ribbons:
- 5/16 inch star (gold or silver)
- "A" Device
- Arrowhead device
- Berlin Airlift Device (Cold War, 1947–1948)
- Battle star (3⁄16"), bronze or silver
- "C" device (1⁄4")
- Campaign clasp
- Campaign star (3⁄16"), bronze or silver
- Citation Star (3⁄16"), WW I, "Silver Star"
- "E" device (Navy)
- Enlistment Bar
- Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia
- Globe Device
- Gold frame
- Good Conduct Loop
- Hourglass Device
- Hurricane Device
- Marksmanship Device
- Maltese Cross
- "M" Device
- "N" Device (Navy)
- "N" Device (Air Force)
- Navy Commendation Star (3⁄16)", WW I, silver
- Numeral device
- Oak leaf cluster (5⁄16" or 13⁄32"), bronze or silver
- Operational Distinguishing Device
- "R" device (1⁄4")
- Service star (3⁄16"), bronze, silver and gold
- Strike/Flight numerals
- "V" device
- Wintered Over Device
- Wake Island Device (World War II)
Examples of service ribbons with devices
The following are examples of various devices affixed to different service ribbons:
|Legion of Merit with "C" device|
|Distinguished Flying Cross with one silver and two bronze Oak Leaf Clusters indicating a total of eight awards|
|Bronze Star Medal with bronze "V" Device|
|Meritorious Service Medal with "R" device|
|Air Medal, five awards, of which four were for valor, and bronze Strike/Flight numeral 3 (Navy and Marine Corps)|
|Air Medal, five awards, of which one was for valor, one for combat, and one for remote|
|Coast Guard Achievement Medal with one silver and two gold 5/16 inch stars indicating a total of eight awards|
|Army Good Conduct Medal (10 awards)|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia and one silver 3/16 inch Service Star indicating a total of six awards|
|Vietnam Service Medal with Arrowhead Device indicating at least one combat jump/amphibious assault and two bronze 3/16 inch Campaign Stars|
|Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with "N" Device|
|Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon with Arctic Device|
|Armed Forces Reserve Medal with bronze Hourglass Device for ten years of service, "M" Device for mobilization, and "3" Numeral Device indicating three mobilizations|
|Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold frame|
|World War I Victory Medal with bronze Maltese cross (for Marines fighting in France and not eligible for a battle clasp, also for parts of Navy Medical Corps)|
|American Defense Service Medal with Atlantic device|
|Army of Occupation Medal with Berlin Airlift Device|
|Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device for mobilization and gold and bronze hourglass devices for 40 years of Reserve service (30 years and 10 years respectively)|
|Coast Guard Distinguished Marksman Award for Rifle|
|Coast Guard Silver Pistol Shot Excellence-In-Competition Award|
|Coast Guard Bronze Rifle Excellence-In-Competition Award|
|Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Medal (a Coast Guard Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon with silver Expert Device)|
|Navy Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon with bronze Sharpshooter Device|
|Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award with gold and bronze palm devices|
|Missouri National Guard Governors Twelve Ribbon with three hawthorn clusters|
- Unit awards
|Navy E Ribbon with silver wreathed E device (four or more awards)|
|Navy Presidential Unit Citation with Nautilus device|
|Navy Presidential Unit Citation with Globe device|
|Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation with Hurricane Device|
|Coast Guard Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device|
- "Department of Defense Manual 1348.33, Volume 3" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. 23 November 2010. p. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 22, 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "Decorations and awards" (PDF). www.defense.gov.
- DoD Military Decorations and Awards Review Results (1-36) http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Military-Decorations-and-Awards-Review-Results.pdf Retrieved January 10, 2016)
- Ferdinando, Lisa (7 January 2016). "Pentagon Announces Changes to Military Decorations and Awards Program". DoD News. U.S. Department of Defense.
- Baldor, Lolita C. (6 January 2016). "Pentagon set to announce awards for combat, drone service". Associated Press U.S. News. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
- Lamothe, Dan (6 January 2016). "Pentagon to overhaul how it recognizes heroism, review cases for modern veterans". Checkpoint, The Washington Post. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
- Copp, Tara (6 January 2016). "DOD to review 1,100 Iraq, Afghanistan medals to determine if they were awarded appropriately". Stars and Stripes. Defense Media Activity. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- Cowan, Paris (8 January 2016). "Pentagon introduces military decorations for drone pilots, cyber fighters". itnews. nextmedia Pty Ldt. Retrieved 16 January 2016.