The Army's principal regulation for military awards has been updated to reflect several policy and procedural changes since the last major revision nine years ago.

The new Army Regulation 600-8-22 was published June 25 and will take effect July 25. The Army last updated the regulation with a series of rapid action revisions in June 2013, and a major revision in December 2006.

Changes included in the new version reflect policies and procedures dealing with:

• The reconsideration and appeal of previous award recommendations, and the right to appeal the revocation of an award.

Such requests dealing with a disapproved or downgraded award, or a request for a previously approved recommendation must be placed within official channels within one year from the date of the awarding authority's original decision. Awards for meritorious service will not be considered for upgrading to a valor award.

A one-time reconsideration by the award authority will be conclusive; however, under federal law a member of Congress may request an award reconsideration that is outside the normal time constraints.

Once an award has been presented, it may be revoked by the awarding authority if facts subsequently determined would have prevented original approval of the award. Upon revocation, the affected soldier will be provided information on appeal procedures.

The Army's power to revoke medals made headlines this year after Army Secretary John McHugh stripped former Green Beret Maj. Mathew Golsteyn of his Silver Star. The officer was accused of killing an unarmed, suspected bomb-maker in Afghanistan. Though he was never charged, and the alleged incident had nothing to do with the actions that earned him a Silver Star, McHugh still had the ability to strip the medal. If a commander or senior leader learns a soldier acted criminally, or even unprofessionally, during the same period of time he or she performed actions meriting an award, the soldier could lose his decoration.

• Flagged soldiers and entitlement to the Purple Heart and other awards.

The revised regulation standardizes restricts award eligibility for most soldiers who have been "flagged" for not measuring up to Army standards for physical fitness. .

Similar policies already are in effect for soldiers enrolled in the weight control program, and those who are flagged for adverse personnel actions.

Flagged soldiers are not eligible to be recommended for, nor receive, an award, decoration or badge during the period of suspension, except the policy does not prohibit the award of a valorous award or posthumous recommendation for an award.

Also, the policy does not apply to the award of the Purple Heart, which is an entitlement and different from all other awards.

Once a flag is lifted, and the soldier meets the standards, he or she is eligible for career-enhancing personnel actions,such as promotions and awards.

• New criteria for the award of the Purple Heart as stipulated in federal law and Defense Department implementing guidance.

Under the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, eligibility for the Purple Heart is extended to soldiers who are killed or wounded in attacks by foreign terrorist organizations. The legal provision and associated implementing guidance is retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.

This change in policy enabled the victims of the 2009 shootings at Fort Hood to receive the Purple Heart, as well as associated benefits. An Arkansas soldier who was killed and another who was injured in a shooting outside of a Little Rock Army-Navy recruiting center in 2009 also received the Purple Heart.

For specific details about this policy, soldiers should consult Chapter 2 of the regulation.

• Eligibility requirements for the award of the Humanitarian Service Medal.

The new regulation expands, in explicit detail, eligibility requirements and award procedures for soldiers who distinguish themselves by direct participation in military acts specified by the Defense Department or Army as being of a humanitarian nature.

Services rendered during such operations must be of major significance, and provide immediate relief, relieve human suffering and save lives. Such operations must have beginning and end dates, and be limited to periods of "immediate relief."

To qualify, soldiers must be on active duty in federal status, and directly participate in the humanitarian act or operation in a designated geographic location. National Guard soldiers who are mobilized for relief operations by their state government generally are not eligible for the HMS. For specific details and award procedures, consult Chapter 2, paragraph 2-22 of the regulation.

• Award policies for stability operations.

This section of the regulation provides policy guidance to commanders for appropriately recognizing the meritorious service, achievements and valorous actions of soldiers and units while participating in stability operations.

Simultaneous with this addition to the awards regulation, the Army has published a field manual, FM 3-07 (June 2, 2015), on stability operations.

The Army defines stability operations as encompassing various military missions and activities conducted outside the United States to maintain or reestablish a secure environment, and provide essential government services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction and humanitarian relief, frequently in conjunction with other U.S. services or international or multinational organizations, such as the United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Chapter 3, paragraph 3-7 of the regulation is designed to assist commanders in determining what personal and units awards may be appropriate for soldiers who participate in stability operations that may involve arms control, combating terrorism, national assistance, noncombat evacuations, peace operations, humanitarian service, counter-drug operations, riot control and civil support.

The Purple Heart clearly is authorized for soldiers who are wounded as a result of enemy action during a stability operation, and should be processed by the commander of the Human Resources Command for award by Army headquarters, unless the secretary of the Army delegates award approval authority to the operational commander.

• The award of the Combat Infantry Badge and Combat Action Badge.

Chapter 8 of the regulation provides detailed information on policy adjustments for the war on terrorism, and subsequent awards of the CIB. The same chapter provides updated eligibility requirements for the Combat Action Badge, which was established by the Army nine years ago to provide special recognition to soldiers who personally engage, or are engaged by, the enemy.

The CIB was established at the dawn of World War II, and today is authorized for Infantry and Special Forces soldiers in the ranks of colonel and below who engage in active ground combat while serving with an infantry, Special Forces or Ranger units at the brigade-level or below.

Since the 1989 invasion of Panama, the CIB has been authorized for soldiers participating in the following wars ,conflicts and operations: Southwest Asia Conflict, Jan. 17-April 11, 1991; Somalia, June 5, 1993-March 31, 1994; Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom Sept. 18, 2001-Dec. 31, 2014; Afghanistan, Operation Freedom's Sentinel Jan. 1, 2015-date to be determined; Iraq, Operations Iraqi Freedom March 19, 2003-Aug. 31, 2010; Operation New Dawn Sept. 1, 2010-Dec. 31, 2011, and Operation Inherent Resolve June 15, 2015-date to be determined.

Army's long-time policy of prohibiting subsequent awards of the CIB for the same qualifying period remain in effect.

The Combat Action Badge, which was established by the Army in 2005, provides special recognition to soldiers, regardless of MOS and branch, who engage, or are engaged by the enemy, except that soldiers who are in units that qualify for the CIB or Combat Medical Badge, are not eligible for the CAB.

The CAB only is authorized for the following conflicts: Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom Sept. 18, 2001-Dec. 31, 2014; Afghanistan, Operation Freedom's Sentinel Jan. 1, 2015-date to be determined; Iraq, Operations Iraqi Freedom March 19, 2003-Aug. 31, 2010; Operation New Dawn Sept. 1, 2010-Dec. 31, 2011, and Operation Inherent Resolve June 15, 2015-date to be determined.

CABs cannot be authorized for any previous conflicts or operations.

For details, consult Paragraphs 8-4c, 8-6b, 8-6g and 8-8j of Chapter 8.

Photo Credit: John Bretschneider