Australian Operational Service Medal


On 22 May 2012 Her Majesty, the Queen formally approved the establishment of the Australian Operational Service Medal.

Australian Operational Service Medal.
Australian Operational Service Medal.

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, together with the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC, RAN, announced the new Australian Operational Service Medal on 19 July 2012.

The Australian Operational Service Medal – Border Protection will for the first time recognise the efforts of Navy personnel carrying out border protection work in acknowledgment of the tough and dangerous work hundreds of men and women in our defence forces undertake.

The Operational Service Badge will be presented in conjunction to the OSM – Border Protection. This badge will eventually replace the Returned from Active Service (RAS) badge. It is considered an appropriate accompaniment for recognition of operational service.

Eligible civilians will receive the same medal as Australian Defence Force personnel but with a standard ribbon and clasp denoting the operation being recognised.

Only those civilians who deploy in support of Australian Defence Force operations and serve under the auspices of the Defence Force Disciplinary Act are eligible for this recognition.

Frequently Asked Questions

What operations qualify for award of the OSM – Border Protection?

  • Operation CRANBERRY – that commenced on 1 August 1997 and ended on 16 July 2006;
  • Operation DIRK – that commenced on 1 September 1997 and ended on 31 October 1997;
  • Operation STANHOPE – that commenced on 3 February 1998 and ended on 6 March 1998;
  • Operation MISTRAL – that commenced on 1 August 1998 and ended on 30 June 2006;
  • Operation TEEBONE – that commenced on 1 March 2001 and ended on 31 March 2001;
  • Operation CELESTA – that commenced on 1 August 2001 and ended on 31 July 2006;
  • Operation SUTTON – that commenced on 25 January 2002 and ended on 19 February 2002;
  • Operation GEMSBOK – that commenced on 29 August 2003 and ended on 3 October 2003;
  • Operation RELEX – that commenced on 3 September 2001 and ended on 13 March 2002;
  • Operation RELEX II – that commenced on 14 March 2002 and ended on 16 July 2006;
  • Operation RESOLUTE – that commenced on 17 July 2006;

What are the qualifying factors for the award?

A person will need or have been deployed or force assigned for duty to a declared operation for a period of not less than an aggregate of 30 days.

Does this mean additional allowances are due retrospectively?

No - allowances and medals are considered separately and the provision of an OSM does not have any bearing on what allowances may/may not have been given.

What does the introduction of the OSM mean for ADF members currently deployed on operations?

The OSM has no bearing on ADF members currently deployed on other operations for which there is medallic recognition, and they will continue to receive the same benefits they currently do. The OSM will only come into place for all new declared military operations from hereon in, apart from the retrospective element for border protection and Defence civilians.

Will variants of the OSM still demonstrate the higher demands required of active service versus service?

Currently, Defence awards ADF members an Australian Active Service Medal or an Australian Service Medal, in recognition of warlike and non-warlike service respectively. They have also recently received campaign medals for service in ‘warlike’ operations in East Timor (Timor-Leste), Iraq, and Afghanistan.

In future ADF members will receive an OSM in place of the ASM, AASM and campaign medal. A unique ribbon received with the OSM will represent the operation they’ve deployed on, in place of the campaign medal. This approach also effectively links recognition of the type of service our people have undertaken to the operations they have deployed on.

It may be the case where a person who has been deployed on a number of operations will have a number of OSMs but with different ribbons associated with each declared operation.

In making these changes Defence seeks to:

  • Provide our people with the potential to attain more visible recognition through the prospect of attaining multiple OSM medals through deployments to different operations with unique ribbons; and
  • To simplify the recognition process and its supporting administration.

Is the award retrospective and over what time?

Yes - there is an element of retrospectivity within the Regulations. The OSM – Border Protection will recognise personnel involved in past and current border protection operations. The award will also recognise civilians (serving under the auspices of the Defence Force Discipline Act) who have not been able to qualify for military awards since the then CDF Barrie made the decision that civilians would no longer be considered for the AASM and ASM in 1999.

Is this new medal just a reaction to the recent tragic asylum-seeker circumstances?

No. A replacement for the Australian Active Service Medal and the Australian Service Medal has been sought for a number of years. The inclusion of the border protection operations is just recognition for ADF personnel who have been protecting Australian sovereignty under hazardous conditions for a number of years. Our men and women have been exposed to the extremes of weather and environment, to the desperate and the vulnerable, to criminal behaviour and sometimes armed opposition. They have operated in the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean. They have had to deal with barbed wire and sharpened stakes when boarding vessels. They have had pieces of concrete thrown at them and have transferred people at night from boat to boat in rough conditions. The circumstances surrounding SIEV 36, 221 and the Search and Rescue incidents in June 2012 go without saying.

Operational Service Badge.
Operational Service Badge.

What is the Operational Service Badge (OSB)?

The Operational Service Badge will be presented in conjunction with the Operational Service Medal. As the OSM replaces the AASM and ASM the OSB will also eventually replace the Returned from Active Service (RAS) Badge which is currently awarded as part of the recognition package for those who have returned from ‘warlike’ service.

Why is the OSB being introduced?

The introduction of the OSM offered a timely opportunity to review the relevance of the current RASB that has been in use since World War II. There has been a move towards recognition of a wide range of service, not only warlike, and a growing awareness of the need to offer visible forms of recognition for those who serve the nation across the full spectrum of operational service. A badge issued in conjunction with the OSM is consistent with these trends and is considered to be an appropriate accompaniment to the medal as the standard package of recognition into the future.

Will the RAS Badge continue to be awarded?

Those operations currently attracting the AASM will continue to be recognised by the RASB, however its use will gradually cease as those operations draw to a close.

If I am entitled, when will I receive my OSM and OSB?

The medals and badges are currently being manufactured. The first of these were presented by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon and the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC, RAN in Darwin on 12 December 2012.

A list of eligible personnel has been developed. The broad intention is for those currently serving in border protection duties to be awarded their medals first. They will be followed by personnel involved in earlier operations.

Will there be different ribbons for each of the operations associated with border protection?

No, the OSM – Border Protection is unique in that the same ribbon will be used for any operation associated with border protection.

Will there be any additional clasps or other devices which shows how many times I have qualified for the OSM-Border Protection?

Due to the nature of service and frequency patrols while on border protection duty it is not practical to have additional devices recognising additional service.

What is the order of wear for the OSM?

The Operational Service Medal (OSM) follows the Active Service Medal (ASM). If a member has all three Service Medal awards, they would be worn in the order of Australian Active Service Medal (AASM), ASM, OSM. If no AASM and/or ASM is worn, the OSM is worn before long service awards.

More Information

Visit the Defence Honours and Awards website for more information and application forms.