The Defence Secretary has announced that a new campaign medal will be awarded to recognise the current operations in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraq and Syria Operational Service Medal, also referred to as the Op SHADER Medal, was announced by Sir Michael Fallon during a visit to deployed British forces at Erbil and Taji in Iraq.
In announcing the new medal, the Defence Secretary praised the efforts of British forces in the theatre over recent years, saying “our troops have made huge contributions to the fight against Daesh, helping end its tyranny in large parts of Iraq and Syria.”
“It is only right that those who’ve performed above and beyond in this fight against the evil of our time get the recognition they deserve. This medal will do just that.”
The medal will be awarded either for 30 days continuous, or 45 days cumulative, service in theatre or for aircrew either 10 sorties over Iraq or 6 over Syria.
Awards are expected to begin in May of 2018 and at least 3, 600 British personnel will be initially eligible for this new award.
The announcement has not been without some controversy, with concerns raised over the lack of recognition for support personnel, RPAS pilots and those based in Cyprus and the Gulf. Tweeting about the announcement, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, emphasised his focus on a new review to ensure adequate recognition is provided for support operations.
The Defence Secretary recognised this review while making the announcement stating that; “the changing character of warfare provides new challenges – not just about how we fight but also how we recognise and support those who serve.”
“That is why we need to examine how to provide medallic recognition for those making a vital contribution to Op Shader outside the battlespace, from Reaper pilots taking life and death decisions to those who ensure our planes can strike Daesh targets.”
The design of the medal or ribbon has yet to be publicly released. It will be the first new OSM since the Congo OSM in 2003, and the first medal awarded for service in Iraq since the reconstruction service medal was discontinued in 2013.