Navy Opens Up Combat Awards for Actions in Red Sea, Gulf of Aden

April 24, 2024 5:48 PM
Sailors prepare an F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter jet, attached to the ‘Wildcats’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, for flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in the Red Sea, Feb. 29, 2024. US Navy Photo

The Navy has designated the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden as two new locations for combat awards, according to a service message released Wednesday.

Under the memo released by Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Franklin Parker, sailors in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden can now receive the Combat Action Ribbon, personal military decorations that include “C” and “V” devices and the Air Medal on a Strike/Flight basis, which is given for sustained flight operations. Sailors may also receive personal military decorations with”R” for direct hands-on effort during combat operations.

While the memo, released by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, now authorizes the combat awards, imminent danger pay is not authorized for the region. Instead, the awards are limited to times when the sailor received hostile fire pay.

“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,” Del Toro said in a statement.

The area covered by geographic coordinates includes the entirety of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the airspace over Yemen.

Awards can be issued for incidents stemming back to Oct. 19, 2023, when the Houthis began firing anti-ship missiles and drones over the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, according to the announcement. On Oct. 19, USS Carney (DDG-64) shot down a number of Houthi missiles and drones during a three-hour engagement, USNI News reported.

Since October, the Houthis have fired anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, at ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Houthis say they target ships with links to Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom, while U.S. Central Command and the Department of Defense have said the ships are multi-national.

Recently, activity in the Red Sea has slowed, with the last Houthi attack on the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden on April 16, according to USNI News’ timeline.

It’s unclear why the Houthis have slowed the attacks over the last month.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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