Thousands of American troops stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border will be awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal, as first reported by military.com. For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of military recognition, think of this as the non-combat equivalent of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
These troops are at the border, including in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, of course, as part of Trump’s shameful effort to stop people who are seeking asylum and safety from crossing the border. And they are, apparently, being celebrated for it.
Pentagon officials originally claimed that though U.S. troops would be deployed at the border, working alongside Customs and Border Protection agents, the military would not be in “direct contact” with people approaching the border. Of course, as we all know, that hasn’t been true. For example, just last month it was reported that military troops were carrying out “welfare checks” on detained people.
As a quick history on the Armed Forces Services Medal, it was created in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton, and far from every service member will receive one. The medal honors service members who take part in a “military operation that is deemed to be a significant activity” and “encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent threat of hostile action.”
In the past, the award has been given to service members who operated at the border under former President George W. Bush, as well as those stationed in West Africa, Haiti, and Bosnia, who were deployed on peacekeeping missions.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell clarified that the “area of eligibility is US land area 100 nautical miles from the international border within Texas (and the city of San Antonio), New Mexico, Arizona and California; and the adjacent US waters out to 24 nautical miles,” as reported by CNN.