In October 1990, the Deputy Director of Personnel and Administrative Services, Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), requested that The Institute of Heraldry provide proposed designs of a service medal for Southwest Asia. Proposed medal designs were forwarded to OSD on 30 October 1990. A proposed Executive Order to authorize the service medal was staffed to the Services, by OSD, on 11 February 1991. President Bush established the Southwest Asia Service Medal by Executive Order 12754, dated 12 March 1991.
The medal selected was designed by Miss Nadine Russell and recognizes the joint-service nature of the operation. It depicts a tank, armored personnel carrier, helicopter, ship and aircraft with a desert and seascape. The reverse side symbolized military might and preparedness in defense of peace. The sand colored ribbon with red, white, blue, green and black stripes represented the colors of the United States and the coalition members.
Bronze stars are worn on the ribbon to indicate campaign participation by the service member. Three campaigns have been designated - - ''DEFENSE OF SAUDI ARABIA'' for the period 2 August 1990 through 16 January 1991, ''LIBERATION AND DEFENSE OF KUWAIT'' for the period 17 January 1991 through 11 April 1991, and ''SOUTHWEST ASIA CEASE- FIRE'' for the period 12 April 1991 through 30 November 1995.
The criteria/policy for the Southwest Asia Service Medal was promulgated by Change No. 1 to DOD 1348-33-M, dated 14 June 1991. This manual established the two campaigns for Southwest Asia. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a termination date for the second campaign and established the third campaign per memorandum, dated 3 December 1991, from the Director, Joint Staff, subject: Termination Date for the Second Campaign and Establishment of a Third Campaign for the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
Order of precedence and wear policy for service medals awarded to Army personnel is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority and supply of medals is contained in AR 600-8-22. The policy for display of campaign streamers on guidons/flags and supply of streamers is contained in Chapter 9, 840-10.