On 2 March 1995, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) (OASD-RMP) requested that The Institute of Heraldry prepare a medal and ribbon design for the proposed Armed Forces Service Medal. This medal was to be awarded to members of the Armed Forces who participated as members of units involved in military operations of significant numbers with no foreign armed opposition or the threat of imminent hostile action. This medal is intended to meet a void in the criteria between the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
Proposed design was forwarded by OASD-FMP to the Services and the Joint Staff. Concurrence in the establishment of the medal from the Services and the Joint Staff was received and the proposal was forwarded to the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) for issuance of an Executive Order. The medal was authorized by Executive Order 12985, dated 11 January 1996.
The AFSM shall take precedence immediately after the Southwest Asia Service Medal.