Authorized by Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral J. William Kime on December 22, 1993, the Meritorious Team Commendation (MTC) is a somewhat unique award. On one hand, it is a unit award, and therefore earned through unit accomplishment. On the other, it is an acknowledgement that the individual members of a team have jointly rendered services that were a significant contributing factor to that accomplishment. It is also a way to recognize the achievement of smaller teams that have not been assigned an Operating Facility, a requirement for all other unit awards.
The core eligibility criteria for the MTC is that the service performed or achievement by the unit is so unusual, superior, or outstanding that that, if it were the effort of an individual, it would call for the awarding of the Commandant Letter of Commendation. Note, however, that an individual who is a member of a team that earned an MTC is not disqualified from being honored or recognized with an additional personal award.
When recommending a team for the MTC, the nominating authority must specify if an Operational Distinguishing Device (ODD) is called for, with “device” referring to an insignia device rather than a piece of equipment or a tool that was used to achieve the superior results during a mission, study, process, and so forth. Simply put, if the mission in question involves “hands-on” operational work—search-and-rescue, for example, or disaster-relief efforts—then the ODD is authorized to be awarded with the ribbon.
Further, the nature of the commendation makes it essential that all personnel are identified in the nomination, listing their ranks, rates, names, Employee ID, and category (Military, Auxiliarist, etc), along with a description of their contributions. To be eligible for inclusion in the award, those who would otherwise qualify must also have been working with the group or team for the entire period that is being singled out as proof of superior teamwork—and they also must have made a significant contribution toward the work’s success.
A major change was made to the authority-award structure in 2011 when it was announced that Coast Guard Investigative Services Special Agents in Charge would be able to exercise approval authority to award the MTC.