Authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on March 9, 1964, the Combat Readiness Medal (CRM) is awarded in recognition of personnel in qualifying duty positions for the CRM who have acquired essential certifications as well as a substantial record of consistent combat readiness. The Wikipeidia entry for the CRM incorrectly states that it is awarded to members of the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves, which stands in contrast with the guidelines in the February, 2016 edition of the AFI 36-2803 indicating the CRM may be awarded to “members of other Services.” Award of the CRM is retroactive to August 1, 1960, a period when the Cold War was beginning to grow uncomfortably warm and the importance of combat readiness could hardly be overstressed, which likely explains the inclusion of members of other branches of the Armed Forces of the United States as being eligible for the award.
The two primary criteria for earning the CRM are type of assignment and length of service at that assignment. Only members of units that are subject to Combat Readiness Reporting may be considered for the honor, and then only if they’ve been certified as combat- or mission-ready and have undergone continuous evaluation in their personal performance in the position within the CRM-qualifying unit.
Constant vigilance is an essential to combat readiness, so another requirement for CRM consideration is the completion of 24 months of sustained combat- or mission-readiness with no more than 120 calendar days of breaks from that duty. If a break in duty is the result of reassignment or retraining, only the time spent en route and in actual retraining counts toward the 120-day limit. After a Servicemember has been awarded the CRM, an Oak Leaf Cluster is awarded for each additional 24 months of duty.