U.S. Air Force officials clarify Bronze Star approval process

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Recent height­ened inter­est in the Bronze Star Medal has led Air Force Cen­tral Com­mand and Air Force Per­son­nel Cen­ter lead­ers to fur­ther explain the cri­te­ria and approval process for its recip­i­ents.

 -
(U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Par­rish)

Col. Scott Arcuri, AFCENT direc­tor of man­pow­er, per­son­nel and ser­vices, said can­di­dates can expect a con­sis­tent and rig­or­ous review process for BSM, Mer­i­to­ri­ous Ser­vice Medal or high­er award pack­ages sub­mit­ted from any ser­vice through the orga­ni­za­tions’ chan­nels.

Exec­u­tive Order 11046 autho­rizes the sec­re­tary of the mil­i­tary depart­ment to grant the award for either hero­ic or mer­i­to­ri­ous achieve­ment or ser­vice, not involv­ing aer­i­al flight, in con­nec­tion with oper­a­tions against any oppos­ing armed force, or while serv­ing with friend­ly forces engaged in an armed con­flict.

While the BSM cri­te­ria do not nec­es­sar­i­ly pre­scribe direct com­bat engage­ment with oppos­ing forces, the “V” for val­or device dis­tin­guish­es indi­vid­u­als who have been in engaged in con­flict to a less­er degree than what might qual­i­fy them for a Sil­ver Star.

“In pro­cess­ing high-lev­el dec­o­ra­tions, our pri­ma­ry focus at AFCENT is to deter­mine the degree to which the individual’s accom­plish­ments can be tied direct­ly to ground com­bat oper­a­tions for the unit in which they served,” Arcuri explained. “We’re com­mit­ted to a con­sis­tent, delib­er­a­tive process that rec­og­nizes deserv­ing indi­vid­u­als and reflects that con­sis­ten­cy long-term across the Air Force.”

Under the direc­tion of AFCENT Com­man­der Lt. Gen. David Gold­fein, a bi-month­ly board of inde­pen­dent mil­i­tary mem­bers com­prised of senior offi­cer and enlist­ed lead­ers, and a non-vot­ing board pres­i­dent assess­es each AFCENT can­di­dates’ dec­o­ra­tion pack­ages, Arcuri explained.

The board assem­bles at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and does not use quo­tas in its deter­mi­na­tions, but the approval rate is typ­i­cal­ly between 50–60 per­cent, Arcuri not­ed, adding that nom­i­na­tors can even resub­mit a down­grad­ed or dis­ap­proved pack­age with­in a year to include sup­port­ing infor­ma­tion.

“This inten­sive process is so impor­tant that Gen­er­al Gold­fein or his deputy com­man­der per­son­al­ly address­es each board to ensure that only the wor­thi­est indi­vid­u­als receive this recog­ni­tion,” Arcuri said. “We bring in cur­rent­ly wing, group and vice com­man­ders and com­mand chief mas­ter sergeants from across the CENTCOM (area of respon­si­bil­i­ty) to care­ful­ly con­sid­er the mer­its of the indi­vid­ual.”

Board mem­bers receive clear and direct guid­ance to make deci­sions that rep­re­sent the greater inter­est of the Air Force with­out regard to their par­tic­u­lar wing or career field, Arcuri added.

As Air­men con­tin­ue to sup­port and embed with oth­er branch­es and units in con­tin­gency oper­a­tions, BSMs award­ed from oth­er ser­vices have become more fre­quent, Arcuri said.

The cri­te­ria, though gener­ic, can be applied specif­i­cal­ly to the mis­sion and deter­mi­na­tion of each service’s chain of com­mand, Arcuri explained, not­ing the Air Force’s shift to an admin­is­tra­tive con­cur/non-con­cur role when anoth­er branch awards the dec­o­ra­tion to an Air­man.

“It is with­in the pre­rog­a­tive of any branch to award a BSM, and typ­i­cal­ly we have no rea­son to ques­tion that deter­mi­na­tion,” Arcuri said, adding that even in rare cas­es of Air Force non-con­cur­rence, the grant­i­ng ser­vice can over­ride the rec­om­men­da­tion.

Arcuri also acknowl­edged that dec­o­ra­tions can crit­i­cal­ly impact accrued points under the Weight­ed Air­man Pro­mo­tion Sys­tem, leav­ing some ser­vice mem­bers to ques­tion whether BSM recip­i­ents might have an unfair advan­tage over MSM recip­i­ents.

AFPC offi­cials have con­firmed the BSM to be on par with the MSM from a pro­mo­tion point sys­tem per­spec­tive.

“The Air Force can award either the BSM or the MSM in the­ater, while the Army typ­i­cal­ly awards the BSM — but each is worth five points in the pro­mo­tion sys­tem,” said Will Brown, Air Force Eval­u­a­tions and Recog­ni­tions Branch chief at AFPC.

A finance Air­man return­ing from an embed­ded tour with the Army is among 13,354 oth­ers who, since 9/11, have received the dec­o­ra­tion, includ­ing 839 recip­i­ents rec­og­nized with val­or for com­bat hero­ism, Brown added.

“The num­ber of BSM recip­i­ents in no way dimin­ish­es the accom­plish­ments of those indi­vid­u­als who have earned it; rather, allows com­man­ders to rec­og­nize mer­i­to­ri­ous or hero­ic ser­vice which may have occurred in var­i­ous capac­i­ties or mis­sions with­in a par­tic­u­lar unit or ser­vice,” Brown said.

Still, Arcuri main­tains that AFCENT and oth­er approv­ing offi­cials are less inter­est­ed in com­par­ing award cri­te­ria or approval sta­tis­tics to oth­er ser­vices, so much as main­tain­ing the integri­ty of the dec­o­ra­tion process and its orig­i­nal intent.

Dur­ing World War II, the BSM evolved from the “Ground Medal” devel­oped by a U.S. Army colonel to raise morale and dis­tin­guish the actions of ground troops from those in aer­i­al com­bat. On Feb. 4, 1944, Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt autho­rized the Bronze Star Medal by Exec­u­tive Order 9419, retroac­tive to Dec. 7, 1941.

“We want to ensure we apply the same cri­te­ria through­out the decades to rec­og­nize the achieve­ments of our peo­ple in com­bat envi­ron­ments,” Arcuri said. “We’ve got a tremen­dous force of mod­ern Air­men doing incred­i­ble work across the AOR and we encour­age com­man­ders to laud the excep­tion­al ser­vice of these Air­men through mul­ti­ple chan­nels.”

Source:
U.S. Air Force

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →