Airmen can now be considered for two new devices that emphasize actions performed remotely or in combat.

The Air Force announced the criteria for the "R" and "C" devices, which can be awarded with 12 military awards, on Thursday.

The "R," or remote, device is reserved for those "not directly exposed to hostile action or significant risk." The "C," or combat, device signifies meritorious performance "under combat conditions."

The "R" device was established to distinguish military awards earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapons system that had a direct or immediate impact on combat or military operations, Air Force spokesman Col. Patrick Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

The device may be awarded to airmen who served in the cyber, remotely piloted aircraft or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance fields.

"RPA pilots, cyber warriors and our ISR troops [have] had a significant impact in fights like the ISIS fight and other operations," Ryder said. "From our perspective, it's really good news that we're now able to recognize those achievements through these devices."

A commander can submit an airman for consideration for one of the devices on an achievement or commendation medal, Ryder said. 

This is retroactive to Jan. 7, 2016, so airmen can be approved for the devices on awards they received going back to that date. Awards approved before that are not eligible.

There are no Air Force nominations yet for the "C" or "R" devices given the novelty of the criteria, according to the Air Force. There are also no pending "V" devices.

The new devices stem from a series of changes the Pentagon implemented to its awards policy for troops involved in combat. The Army released its criteria for the devices in March, and the remaining services will roll out the new policy by the end of this year.

This guidance also establishes new eligibility rules for awarding medals with the "V" device, intended to recognize valorous combat actions taken at great risk and under duress.

Service specific Achievement Medals are no longer eligible for a "V," only a "C" or "R." That's true now, too, for the Legion of Merit, which before now was awarded with a "V" only by the Navy and Marine Corps. However, each of the services is clear to award the Distinguished Flying Cross with "V," as the Air Force has done for heroism dating to the Korean War.

This chart includes the awards now eligible for "C," "R" and "V" devices:


Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at cpanzino@militarytimes.com.