U.S. Africa Command was awarded a Joint Meritorious Unit Award for its response to the conflict in Libya between March 19 and March 30, 2011, when staff members coordinated humanitarian and military operations to maintain stability in the region.
During a ceremony prior to the start of an all-hands meeting, March 9, 2012, General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, and Chief Master Sergeant Jack Johnson Jr., U.S. AFRICOM's senior enlisted leader, attached a Joint Meritorious Award ribbon onto the command's flag. The award recognized U.S. Africa Command's successful execution of Operation Odyssey Dawn, in support of United Nation's Security Council Resolution 1973, which demanded an end to the violence by the Qadhafi regime against citizens. (See Statement by General Ham on commencement of military strikes in Libya).
The Joint Meritorious Award is awarded in the name of the U.S. Secretary of Defense to joint activities for "meritorious achievement or service, superior to that which is normally expected, for actions in the following situations: combat with an armed enemy of the United States, a declared national emergency, or under extraordinary circumstances that involve national interests."
In response to growing turbulence across North Africa, the command rapidly coordinated and led interagency and 10 partner nations engaged in humanitarian and military operations to maintain stability within the region. Through this partnership, Africa Command preserved critical infrastructure by directing 813 U.S. Air Mobility missions that delivered 2,362 short tons of cargo and offloaded over 17 million pounds of fuel supporting coalition efforts. Additionally, this international effort established a no-fly zone over Libya, and enforced an arms embargo at sea.
According to the award citation, "The [U.S. AFRICOM] staff's diligent efforts directly contributed to restoring and maintaining regional security and stability."
The award presentation took place on the one-year anniversary of the date that Ham took charge of U.S. Africa Command. Following the ceremony, Ham reflected on U.S. AFRICOM's accomplishments over the past year and reviewed upcoming changes affecting staff members.
Expressing his gratitude for staff members, Ham said, "One year to the day and just to sum it up, I couldn't be more proud," Ham said. "There's no place that I'd rather be than right here, right now, and there's no team I'd rather be with than this team."
See related articles on Operation Odyssey Dawn:
AFRICOM Supports U.S. and International Response to Libya Crisis
U.S. Allies to Enforce U.S. Security Resolution on Libya
Coalition Launches 'Odyssey Dawn' to Implement Libya No-Fly Zone
Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Strike Libya
Overview of 1st Day of U.S. Operations to Enforce UN Resolution 1973 Over Libya
Mullen Says No-Fly Zone 'Effectively in Place'
TRANSCRIPT: General Ham Addresses Media in Sigonella, Sicily on Operation Odyssey Dawn
The President on Libya: "We Have Already Saved Lives
U.S. Plans to Transition to Support Role for Libya Operations
Initial Libya Mission Complete, Successful, Gates Says