General Campaign Star – ALLIED FORCE (GCS-AF)

The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the General Campaign Star – ALLIED FORCE (GCS-AF).

General Campaign Star – ALLIED FORCE (GCS-AF)

General Campaign Star – ALLIED FORCE (GCS-AF)


This general service award has been created as a means to recognize in a timelier manner those who participate in operations in the presence of an armed enemy. Rather than creating a new honour for each new Canadian Forces (CF) operation as it arises, the General Campaign Star (GCS) and General Service Medal (GSM) — with their theatre or service specific ribbons — can be awarded in future to honour participation in any operation that meets the criteria provided that the service is not counted towards another service medal.

Eligibility and criteria

The General Campaign Star (GCS) is awarded to members of the Canadian Forces and members of allied forces working with the Canadian Forces who deploy into a defined theatre of operations to take part in operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

The GCS is always issued with a ribbon specific to the theatre or type of service being recognized, and each ribbon has its own criteria.

The GCS with ALLIED FORCE ribbon is awarded to fighter pilots and AWACS crew members who flew at least 5 sorties during Operation ALLIED FORCE from 24 March to 10 June 1999 in the theatre of operations which consisted of the airspace over Kosovo and other territories of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Adriatic and Ionian seas.

Some recipients may have to exchange their previously presented NATO Medal to receive this award.

The only members of allied forces eligible are those who serve in missions on behalf of Canada. They are usually exchange personnel who deploy with our units or personnel seconded to the CF specifically to serve in our missions. In all cases, they must be on the CFTPO filling a Canadian position, and they are usually assigned a CF service number. Foreign personnel working in concert with the CF or reporting to a Canadian superior in an international context are not eligible for Canadian service medals.

Aircrew flying into the theatre accumulate one day of service for the first sortie flown on any day. Additional sorties flown on the same day receive no further credit.

The first and last days in theatre count as full days.

Technical Assistance Visits, Staff Inspection Visits, and Staff Assistance Visits in theatre will now be considered eligible service towards the GCS.

Certain other types of visits and inspections do not constitute qualifying service. Specifically, visits for the purpose of leadership, familiarization, ceremonial, or morale by civilian or military VIPs and other similar administrative activities are excluded from qualification.

Any person who dies or is evacuated because of injuries or medical reasons directly attributable to service is deemed to have satisfied the time criteria set out above. Any recipient of the Star who dies or is evacuated because of injuries or medical reasons directly attributable to service shall be credited the entire period the person would have served should the person have completed their tour of duty for the purpose of calculating eligibility towards Rotation Bars.

When a person meets the criteria for the GCS-AF or a Bar to it and the GSM-AF or a Bar to it within a period of 180 days, the person shall only be awarded the GCS or a Bar to it. In other words, one cannot earn both the GCS and the GSM for AF (or bars to them) during a six months period.

The Star and Rotation Bars shall be awarded for honourable service.

For more details, consult the Eligible Service List (accessible only on the Government of Canada network).


The GCS is a gold-coloured four-pointed star, 44 mm across, representing the cardinal points of a compass bearing on the obverse, built-up in order from the back: a wreath of maple leaves terminating at the top with the Royal Crown, two crossed swords, the blades and hilts forming four additional points to the star, an anchor and a flying eagle. The wreath represents honour, the maple leaves represent Canada, the anchor, crossed swords and eagle represent the three services of the Canadian Forces and the Crown represents the King of Canada and his role as the fount of all honours. On the reverse appear within a raised circle, from top to bottom: the Royal Cypher ensigned by the Royal Crown, a plain space for engraving, and three maple leaves on one stem.

The Star is engraved on the reverse with the service number, abbreviated substantive rank, initials and last name of the recipient.

The ribbon passes through a ring attached to a small ball at the top point of the star.

The ALLIED FORCE ribbon is 32 mm wide with a central stripe of light blue (12 mm), on either side of which are stripes of white (2 mm) and red (8 mm). Red and white are the official colours of Canada as appointed by King George V in 1921 and light blue represents the air force.


There is no bar to this medal.


The GCS-AF shall be worn in the sequence prescribed in the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive, and in the following manner:

On the left breast, suspended from the ribbon described above, between the South-West Asia Service Medal and the General Campaign Star with South-West Asia ribbon.


The use of a post-nominal is not authorized for this medal.

Historical notes

The GCS and GSM were created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in March 2004. Initially both medals were issued each with only one ribbon (those currently used for South-West Asia) with bars specifying the operation being recognized. Two bars were created, namely ALLIED FORCE and ISAF+FIAS.

The inaugural ceremony took place on 29 November 2004 in the ballroom of Rideau Hall in Ottawa. On this occasion, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, CC, CMM, COM, CD, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, presented the Star to 28 representative recipients (8 with ALLIED FORCE bar and 20 with ISAF+FIAS bar). The first presentations of the General Service Medal were also made during that event.

In 2009, the GCS and GSM were modified so that the existing bars were abolished, being replaced with theatre or service-specific ribbons thus allowing the use of bars to recognize multiple rotations where appropriate. As a result, recipients of the original GCS with ALLIED FORCE bar must have their medal remounted without the bar and using the new ALLIED FORCE ribbon. The ALLIED FORCE bars shall be returned to DH&R.

Captain Carl Gauthier of the Directorate of History and Heritage, DND, designed the award. The Canadian Heraldic Authority at the Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, completed the final artwork.

As of 31 December 2022, 92 awards had been made.

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