General Service Medal - ALLIED FORCE (GSM-AF)

The official description, eligibility, criteria, and history of the General Service Medal - ALLIED FORCE (GSM-AF).

General Service Medal - ALLIED FORCE (GSM-AF)

General Service Medal - ALLIED FORCE (GSM-AF)


This general service award has been created as a means to recognize in a timelier manner those who provide direct support to operations in the presence of an armed enemy. Rather than creating a new honour for each new Canadian Forces 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 Service Medal (GSM) is awarded to members of the CF and members of allied forces serving with the CF who deploy outside of Canada — but not necessarily into a theatre of operations — to provide direct support, on a full-time basis, to operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

The GSM may also be awarded, depending on the operation, to Canadian citizens other than members of the Canadian Forces, who are deployed outside Canada, either inside or outside a theatre of operations and working with the CF to provide direct support, on a full-time basis, to operations in the presence of an armed enemy.

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

The GSM with ALLIED FORCE ribbon is awarded for at least 30 days cumulative service in direct support of Operation ALLIED FORCE in Aviano and/or Vicenza, Italy, or in Skopje, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, between 24 March and 10 June 1999.

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

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

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.

The Medal shall be awarded for honourable service.

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


The GSM is a silver-coloured circular medal, 36 mm across, bearing on the obverse a contemporary effigy of the Sovereign of Canada, circumscribed with the inscription in capital letters of the Canadian Royal Title and the word "CANADA", separated by small crosses pattée. The crosses pattée represent military valour and merit. On the reverse are two crossed swords, an anchor and a flying eagle superimposed on each other, the whole surrounded by two branches of maple leaves which form a wreath, and surmounted by the Royal Crown. 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 as well as the effigy on the obverse represent the Sovereign of Canada and their role as the Fount of all honours.

The Medal is engraved on the edge with the service number, abbreviated substantive rank, initials, and surname of the recipient. Civilian recipients have only their name engraved on the Medal.

A claw at the top of the medal is attached to a straight slotted bar. A central maple leaf overlapping two others ornaments this suspension.

The ribbon is 32 mm wide with a central stripe of red (18 mm), on either side of which are stripes of white (2 mm) and light blue (5 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 GSM-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 General Campaign Star with EXPEDITION ribbon and the General Service Medal 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 Medal to 17 representative recipients, 6 with ALLIED FORCE bar and 11 with ISAF+FIAS bar. The first presentations of the General Campaign Star 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 GSM 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, prepared the design. The Canadian Heraldic Authority at the Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, completed the final artwork.

As of 31 December 2022, 152 awards have been made.

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