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Authorized by E.O. 11545

The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) shall only be awarded to officers of the Armed Forces of the United States whose exceptional performance of duty and contributions to national security or defense have been at the highest levels. Such officers have direct and ultimate responsibility for a major activity or program that significantly influences the policies of the U.S. Government. Only under the most unusual circumstances will the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) be awarded as an impact award for outstanding TDY achievement. The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) is specifically intended to recognize exceptionally distinguished service and to honor an individual's accomplishments over a sustained period.

Normally, such broad responsibilities shall be held by only the most senior officers whose duties bring them into direct and frequent contact with the Secretary of Defense and the other senior officials within the Government. Examples of such positions are the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Chiefs and the Vice Chiefs of the Military Services, including the Commandant and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; and the CINCs and the Deputy CINCs of the Unified Combatant Commands.

The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) also may be awarded to other senior officers who serve in positions of great responsibility, or to an officer whose direct and individual contributions to national security or defense are recognized as being so exceptional in scope and value as to be equivalent to contributions normally associated with positions encompassing broader responsibilities.

The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM), as the highest Defense decoration, may only be awarded by the Secretary of Defense. Under no circumstances may the awarding authority be delegated.

The Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) shall be placed in precedence after the Medal of Honor (MOH) and the Distinguished Service Crosses of the Armed Forces, but before the Distinguished Service Medals of the Armed Forces.

All recommendations for award of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) to members of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or the Unified Combatant Command Headquarters or activities reporting to or through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shall be processed through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for recommendation. These recommendations shall not be boarded at the Joint Staff level. The Director, Joint Staff, for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shall forward his recommendations to the Chief, Military Personnel Division, Personnel and Security Directorate, WHS, for boarding and processing. Recommendations should be submitted to arrive at the Joint Staff no later than 90 days before the desired presentation date.

All other recommendations for award of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (DDSM) shall be submitted to the Chief, Military Personnel Division, Personnel and Security Directorate, Washington Headquarters Services (WHS), for boarding and processing. Recommendations should be submitted to the WHS no later than 90 days before the desired presentation date.

Authorized Devices: Bronze Oak Leaf, Silver Oak Leaf
 
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