On 7 January 2016, the Secretary of Defense authorized the use of the "C" and "R" devices to distinctly recognize members of the U.S. Armed Forces for exceptional performance that has a direct impact on a combat engagement or other military operation. In addition, the Secretary of Defense standardized the applicable awards on which the "V" device can be affixed. Subsequently, the Department of Defense codified these changes with the release of Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1348.33, DoD Military Decorations and Awards Program, 21 December 2016. This message will provide the criteria and procedures to award the "V", "C" and "R" devices within the Air Force.
Valor "V," Combat "C" and Remote "R" Questions and Answers
The "V" device is worn on decorations to denote valor, an act or acts of heroism by an individual above what is normally expected while engaged in direct combat with an enemy of the United States, or an opposing foreign or armed force, with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk.
Effective 7 January 2016, the "V" device may only be authorized on the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Bronze Star Medal (BSM), Air Medal (AM), and Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM). The "V" device is not authorized on any other ribbon or medal.
The use of the "V" device on the Air Force Achievement Medal is only authorized for the period of 11 January 1996 to 6 January 2016.
As a reminder, the use of the "V" device on the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award is only authorized for the period of 11 January 1996 to 1 January 2014. (NOTE: The establishment of the Gallant Unit Citation and Meritorious Unit Award warranted the discontinuance of the "V" device being authorized for approved USAF unit awards).
The "C" device was established to distinguish an award earned for exceptionally meritorious service or achievement performed under combat conditions on or after 7 January 2016 (this is not retroactive prior to this date). The device is only authorized if the service or achievement was performed while the Service member was personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action (must have come under fire or engaged with the enemy with direct and lethal fire and are at the risk of grave danger):
- While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States
- While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party
The use of the "C" device is determined solely on the specific circumstances under which the service or achievement was performed. The award is not determined by geographic location. The fact the service was performed in a combat zone, a combat zone tax exclusion area, or an area designated for imminent danger pay, hardship duty pay, or hostile fire pay is not sufficient to qualify for the "C" device. The Service member must have been personally exposed to hostile action or under significant risk of hostile action.
Rank/Grade will not be a factor in determining whether the "C" device is warranted, nor will any quotas, official or unofficial, be established limiting the number of "C" devices authorized for a given combat engagement, a given operation, or cumulatively within a given expanse of area or time.
Authorized and Unauthorized Decorations
- The "C" device is authorized for placement only on the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (LOM), DFC, AM, AFCM, and AFAM. It cannot be authorized on any other ribbon or medal
- The "C" device is not authorized on the BSM. All awards of the BSM for non-valorous achievement or service must satisfy the requirements for personal exposure to hostile action or significant risk of exposure to hostile action
- The "C" device is not authorized on the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), as this award is equivalent to the BSM. Accordingly, if the service or achievement was performed under combat conditions, the BSM is the appropriate award
The "R" device was established to distinguish an award earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat operation or other military operation (i.e. outcome of an engagement or specific effects on a target). Other military operations include Title 10, United States Code, support of non-Title 10 operations, and operations authorized by an approved execute order.
The action must have been performed through any domain and in circumstances that did not expose the individual to personal hostile action, or place him or her at significant risk of personal exposure to hostile action:
- While engaged in military operations against an enemy of the United States; or
- While engaged in military operations involving conflict against an opposing foreign force; or
- While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in military operations with an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party
Qualifying Career Fields. The "R" device may be awarded to Airmen who, during the period of the act, served in the remotely piloted aircraft; cyber; space; or Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance career fields on or after 7 January 2016 (this is not retroactive prior to this date)
- Basis for a Decoration
- The "R" device is only authorized for a specific achievement (i.e. impact awards) and will not be authorized for sustained performance or service (i.e. end-of-tour, separation or retirement decorations)
- Recognition for direct and immediate impact shall be based on the merit of the individual's actions, the basic criteria of the decoration, and the "R" device criteria
- Performance of a normal duty or accumulation of minor acts will not justify the "R" device. The act must have been: performed in a manner significantly above that normally expected and sufficient to distinguish the individual above members performing similar acts
- A decoration should only be recommended in cases where the event clearly merits special recognition of the action (i.e. achieving a strategic objective or saving of lives on the ground)
The "R" device is authorized for placement only on the LOM, MSM, AFCM and AFAM. It cannot be authorized on any other ribbon or medal.
- Decoration. A military award bestowed upon an individual for a specific act or acts of gallantry, or for meritorious service or achievement
- Direct Impacts. "Hands-on" employment of a weapon system having direct, immediate, and on-site effects to the outcome of an engagement or other operation having an effect on a designated target
- Domain. Described as air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace domains in accordance with Joint Publication 1-02
- Employment. The strategic, operational, or tactical use of forces (Joint Publication 1-02)
- Meritorious Service or Achievement Under Combat Conditions. Meritorious service or achievement while personally exposed to hostile action or while at significant risk of exposure to hostile action
- Valor. An act or acts of heroism by an individual above what is normally expected while engaged in direct combat with an enemy of the United States, or an opposing foreign or armed force, with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk
- Weapon System. A combination of one or more weapons with all related equipment, materials, service, personnel, and means of delivery and deployment (if applicable) required for self-sufficiency (Joint Publication 1-02)
Approval Authority and Procedures
"V" and "C" Devices
- The Commander, Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) is the approval authority for the applicable devices on the Legion of Merit (LOM) and below for the USCENTCOM area of operation (AOR). All other nominations will be processed thru the member's chain-of-command, endorsed by major command commander (MAJCOM/CC) or CV and forwarded to Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) Recognition Section for staffing to Secretary of the Air Force Personnel Decorations Board for determination to award
- The LOM approval authorities outlined in Table A2.1 of AFI 36-2803, The Air Force Military Awards and Decorations Program, may authorize the "R" device provided the decoration and device criteria are met
- Approval authority for the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), Air Force Commendation Medal (AFCM) and Air Force Achievement Medal (AFAM) with "R" device is the wing commander or equivalent (must be an Air Force officer). This authority may not be further delegated
Exception to Policy
- "R" Device: Requests here or in future instructions must be justified and forwarded through command channels to MAJCOM/CC or CV, then forwarded to AFPC Recognition Section for processing to the Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF) Decorations Board. The request must detail the circumstances which exists that may warrant an exception
- "V" and "C" Device: Criteria is set by Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Any exceptions must be routed through command channels to the applicable MAJCOM/CC or CV, then forward to AFPC for processing through the SecAF/Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF) to OSD. Requests must detail the circumstances which exists that may warrant an exception
Any O-6 or civilian equivalent in the nominee's chain of command may disapprove the nomination.
Nomination packages must include:
- Recommendation for decoration (DECOR 6), AF Form 3994, Recommendation for Decoration Deployment/Contingency Operation, or memorandum format of DECOR 6. Service members who perform specific achievements should be recommended for the appropriate decoration with the applicable device
- A narrative explanation of the action (limited to no more than 20 lines in a Word document, 12 pitch, Times New Roman font). The narrative explanation must outline the actions to be recognized and must provide the date, time, location, event description, etc
Regular Air Force/Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve:
For "V" and "C" devices. Complete nomination package must be submitted through the chain of command, as follows:
- For actions performed in the USCENTCOM AOR, nominations are submitted through the deployed Wing/CC or equivalent to AFCENT Decorations Processing Unit (DPU) (firstname.lastname@example.org). For members assigned to HQ USAF, nominations are endorsed by the senior official in the applicable HAF 2-letter and forwarded to AFCENT/DPU
- For actions performed in the AOR of another Combatant Command, nominations are submitted through the member's chain of command to AFPC Recognition Section, AFPC/DP1SSP (email@example.com), for processing to the Secretary of the Air Force Decorations Board.
- For members assigned to a Department of Defense agency, joint activity, or another federal agency, nominations are submitted through Air Force District of Washington vice commander (AFDW/CV) to AFPC/DP1SSP (firstname.lastname@example.org), for processing to the Secretary of the Air Force Decorations Board
For "R" device, nomination packages are staffed through the chain of command to the approval authority.
The devices will be available for procurement from private vendors (i.e. AAFES, Graco, Vanguard) the first of August 2017.
Order of Precedence. Wear of devices will be in order of precedence ("V", "C", "R") without exception.
Wear of the "V", "C", or "R" Device. The devices are worn centered on the ribbon or to the wearers' right of oak leaf clusters (OLC). The devices are worn centered on the medal. Wear only one device for the first through sixth award and add a second device for seventh or more awards. The device and subsequent awards are denoted as follows:
- 1st Award - Bronze "V", "C", or "R" device
- 2nd Award - Silver "V", "C", or "R" device
- 3rd Award - Gold "V", "C", or "R" device
- 4th Award - Bronze "V", "C", or "R" device with wreath
- 5th Award - Silver "V", "C", or "R" device with wreath
- 6th Award - Gold "V", "C", or "R" device with wreath
- 7th and more awards - Refer to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel
Example: If a member has seven (7) Air Force Commendation Medals and one (1) is with Valor, the Ribbon would show a Bronze "V" device, a Silver OLC, and a Bronze OLC.
Multiple Devices. Center multiple devices on the ribbon in order of precedence ("V", "C", and then "R") from the wearer's right of the OLCs, regardless of number of awards (i.e. Bronze Valor will always precede Gold Remote). Members will continue to affix OLCs for "V", "C", and "R" awards (i.e. If a member has 7 Air Force Achievement Medals and one is with Valor, the Ribbon would show a Bronze "V" device, a Silver OLC, and a Bronze OLC).
The Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS) codes for the "R" and "C" device have been added and are available for updating. However, continue reading this section for instructions on placement into the Automated Records Management System (ARMS) (ie., official personnel record).
The virtual Personnel Center (vPC) was mandated for processing MSM, AFCM and AFAM nominations in October 2015. The following procedures are established for processing the "V", "C", and "R" devices outside of vPC.
Nominations for the MSM, AFCM and AFAM with the applicable device ("V", "C", and "R") will not be processed within vPC. Nominations will be processed manually using the AF Form 3994, narrative justification and citation. The narrative explanation of the action (limited to no more than 20 lines in a Word document, 12 pitch, Times New Roman font) will contain the name of the decoration and the nominated device, centered on the top of the page (e.g. AIR FORCE COMMENDATION MEDAL WITH "R" DEVICE).
- The approval authority for the device must review and either approve or disapprove the nomination
- If the approval authority disapproves, the decoration may still be considered for approval/disapproval, absent the device, and the nomination package will be placed into vPC for processing
- If the approval authority approves the decoration, the citation will be placed on the card stock with the pre-printed language (do not utilize the vPC card stock). The citation/certificate will be printed to states "with V device", "with C device", or "with R device" (See AFI 36-2803, Figure 3.15). Once printed, the approving authority will "wet" sign the citation/certificate and provide a copy to the servicing Force Support Squadron (FSS). The FSS will mail a copy of the citation/certificate to AFPC for filing in the official personnel record once an order number is placed on the citation/certificate. NOTE: MPS are encouraged to maintain copy of approved devices for future update when devices are added to MilPDS. In some cases, due to PCS, the Airman may need to request update of the device thru their servicing MPS.
- Air Force veterans, retirees, or next of kin: Request for award must be submitted to AFPC/DP1SSP, 550 C Street, West, Suite 12, Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4717 for processing to the Secretary of the Air Force Decorations Board. Requests must include documents outlined in Part III
For more information visit the Air Force Recognition Programs on myPers (CAC required). Any questions should be directed to the myPers - Total Force Service Center (DSN: 665-0102, (800) 525-0102, (210) 565-0102). MAJCOMs may contact the Air Force Personnel Center Recognition Programs Section (AFPC/DP2SPE) 550 C Street West Suite 12, JBSA-Randolph, TX 78150-4714 for any questions. The OPR for this message is the Air Force Personnel Center Recognition Programs Section (AFPC/DP3SP).