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    HomeMilitaryNavy Expands Combat Awards Eligibility Amid Red Sea, Gulf of Aden Hostilities

    Navy Expands Combat Awards Eligibility Amid Red Sea, Gulf of Aden Hostilities

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    Taiz _ Yemen _ 07 Feb 2017 : Soldier fighting in the ranks of the legitimate army against Al-Houthi militia in the West of Taiz City
    Taiz _ Yemen _ 07 Feb 2017 : Soldier fighting in the ranks of the legitimate army against Al-Houthi militia in the West of Taiz City

    The United States Navy has expanded the eligibility for combat awards to include service in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, acknowledging the ongoing conflict with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the area. This decision highlights the heightened risks faced by sailors in the strategic maritime corridors, where hostile engagements have been frequent since the fall.

    YEMEN, Sanaa : A Shiite-Houthi supporter holds a Yemeni flags and raises his rifle during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
    YEMEN, Sanaa : A Shiite-Houthi supporter holds a Yemeni flags and raises his rifle during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

    According to a recent service message from Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Franklin Parker, sailors serving in these zones may now receive the Combat Action Ribbon, decorations with “C” and “V” devices indicating combat and valor, respectively, and the Air Medal on a Strike/Flight basis.

    YEMEN, Sanaa : Children hold Yemeni flags during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
    YEMEN, Sanaa : Children hold Yemeni flags during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

    This adjustment underscores the Navy’s recognition of the dangers and the exceptional professionalism exhibited by service members operating under these challenging conditions.

    YEMEN, Sanaa : Shiite-Houthi supporters raise rifles during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
    YEMEN, Sanaa : Shiite-Houthi supporters raise rifles during a demonstration in Sanaa on October 2, 2015, against ongoing military operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

    Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro noted, “Since October 19th, our ships, aircraft, and those who operate them have performed with exceptional professionalism and dedication – our Navy and Marine Corps are integral to our economic and national security.”

    Taiz / Yemen - 30 Nov 2016 : Soldiers fighting in the ranks of the legitimate army against Al-Houthi militia in Taiz City .
    Taiz / Yemen – 30 Nov 2016 : Soldiers fighting in the ranks of the legitimate army against Al-Houthi militia in Taiz City .

    This statement came following a significant incident on October 19, 2023, when USS Carney (DDG-64) successfully defended against a barrage of anti-ship missiles and drones fired by Houthi forces, marking the onset of a series of similar confrontations.

     Taiz _ Yemen _ 13 Apr 2017 : A sad child sits on the rubble of his house destroyed by the war in Yemen, Taiz
    Taiz _ Yemen _ 13 Apr 2017 : A sad child sits on the rubble of his house destroyed by the war in Yemen, Taiz

    Despite the award authorizations, imminent danger pay is not sanctioned for the region; the rewards are tied to periods when sailors are entitled to receive hostile fire pay. These geographical coordinates encompass the entirety of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the airspace above Yemen.

    International Shipping Route Danger Threat. Ballistic Missile Launch In The Red Sea. Yemen Aggression To Shipping. Military Conflict
    International Shipping Route Danger Threat. Ballistic Missile Launch In The Red Sea. Yemen Aggression To Shipping. Military Conflict

    The Houthis, who claim to target ships linked to Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom, have launched ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, against ships transiting these waters. In response, the U.S. Central Command and the Department of Defense maintain that the targeted ships are multinational.

    Yemen, Sana - 2024 January 24: Red sea crisis visual on google maps. Red sea pirates. Yemen pirates. Israel - hamas war. Houthi movement. High quality photo
    Yemen, Sana – 2024 January 24: Red sea crisis visual on google maps. Red sea pirates. Yemen pirates. Israel – hamas war. Houthi movement. High quality photo

    The last reported attack by the Houthis in the region occurred on April 16, with activity slowing down since then, leaving military analysts to speculate on the reasons behind the decrease in attacks.

    USS New Jersey (BB-62) in Camden, New Jersey
    USS New Jersey (BB-62) in Camden, New Jersey

    Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who served as the head of the U.S. 5th Fleet, recognized the valorous actions of the USS Carney’s crew, awarding combat decorations to five sailors for their “exceptional performance” in a particular engagement where 14 Houthi air drones were intercepted on December 16.

    US Flags Flying Beside the Battleship Missouri Memorial, with Four Sailors
    US Flags Flying Beside the Battleship Missouri Memorial, with Four Sailors

    This January presentation, wherein the entire crew received the Combat Action Ribbon, echoes a tradition of acknowledgment rarely seen since the 1991 Gulf War.

    Pier 45 in Fisherman Wharf San Francisco CA
    Pier 45 in Fisherman Wharf San Francisco CA

    This new authorization for combat awards is in effect from October 19, 2023, with implications for those who have demonstrated exceptional performance and heroism in the face of direct threats.

    San Diego, CA - July 19, 2020: USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of its class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II it is now a museum ship.
    San Diego, CA – July 19, 2020: USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of its class. Commissioned a week after the end of World War II it is now a museum ship.

    It represents a significant acknowledgment by the Navy of the continuous and perilous conditions its sailors face, as well as the evolving nature of naval operations in the Red Sea region, where geopolitical tensions have increasingly put military and commercial vessels at risk.

    Front of the USS Cassin Young ship moored in Boston
    Front of the USS Cassin Young ship moored in Boston

    While the Houthis have reduced their attacks recently, the reasoning behind this drop-off is not definitively known. Analysts have posited various theories, ranging from deterrence by American air defenses to potential Iranian involvement in the recent military escalation between Iran and Israel.

    The USS Iwo Jima LHD-7 amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy.
    The USS Iwo Jima LHD-7 amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy.

    James Holmes, a maritime strategy director, speculated, “I seriously doubt Iran has given up on its aims vis-a-vis Israel. But it would not be outlandish to speculate that the leadership has decided a tactical pause is in its interests.”

    Missouri memorial flags
    Missouri memorial flags

    As the Navy adjusts to the changing threats in the Middle East, sailors who have faced and will face such threats are now duly recognized for their courage and dedication to maintaining security in some of the world’s most crucial maritime passageways.

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