- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Pentagon unveiled Wednesday a new medal to honor troops who have served or are serving in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The new Operation Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal will be awarded to service members who have deployed to Iraq or Syria or its airspace or territorial waters since June 15, 2014, a defense official told the Military Times.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the new medal at a change of command ceremony Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, where Army Gen. Joseph Votel took over the U.S. Central Command from Gen. Lloyd Austin III.

“I am pleased to announce today, by the president’s order and upon the chairman’s and my recommendation, that our sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines serving in Iraq and Syria as part of operation Inherent Resolve are eligible for this medal and distinction,” Mr. Carter said, The Hill reported.

Service members must spend at least 30 consecutive days in Iraq or Syria or a total of 60 nonconsecutive days in order to qualify for the medal, a defense official told the Military Times.

However, the 30-day minimum time requirement will be waived for any service member who is injured and evacuated out of the country or who engages in combat.

About 11,000 troops are already eligible for the honor.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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