Since its creation through George W. Bush's 2003 executive order, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal has been awarded to members of the Armed Forces who have deployed overseas in direct service to the War on Terror from September 11, 2001 to a date still to be determined. It primarily recognizes troops such as pilots and sailors who deployed overseas in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but didn't put boots on the ground in either country. 

Criteria for the medal states a military service member must 1) perform duty in a deployed status and 2) participate in designated anti-terrorism operation for either thirty consecutive or sixty non-consecutive days of duty. There is no time requirement for those engaged in combat, wounded while in the line of duty, or killed in action. 

"Deployed status" is defined as either temporary or permanent orders to a duty station outside U.S. borders in direct support of anti-terrorism operations. That deployment must also be in a nation the Department of Defense recognizes as a base for anti-terrorist operations; currently more than 50 countries from Afghanistan to Yemen and bodies of water such as the Persian Sea and the Suez Canal meet that qualification. Units or personnel within the U.S. are never eligible for the War on Terror Expeditionary medal.
The Department of Defense has established six operation periods to date that serve as criteria: Enduring Freedom, September 11, 2001-to be determined (TBD); Iraqi Freedom, March 19, 2003-August 31, 2010; Nomad Shadow, November 5, 2007-TBD; New Dawn, September 1, 2010-December 31, 2011; Inherent Resolve, June 15, 2014-TBD; and Freedom's Sentinel, January 1, 2015-TBD.
Prior to April 30, 2005, the medal was awarded for service within Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has been discontinued for those countries and replaced with the Iraq Campaign medal and Afghanistan Campaign medal. Recipients can exchange the Expeditionary medal or retain the original, but no one can earn more than one medal for the same service period.

Designed by John Sproston of the Army's Institute of Heraldry, the War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal is a bronze disc with a shield adapted from the Great Seal of the United States superimposed on two crossed swords enclosed in a laurel wreath. An eagle with outspread wings is surmounted on the shield; it clutches a serpent in its talons. The reverse repeats the swords, eagle, and serpent with "War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal" inscribed around them.

The ribbon is scarlet, white, and blue to represent the U.S., light blue for worldwide cooperation against terrorism, and gold for excellence. Recipients who participate in more than one designated service period receive a bronze star for each; a silver star replaces five bronze stars.

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