Obverse: The NATO star set in a wreath of olive leaves.

Reverse: The title “NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANISATION” and the words “IN THE SERVICE OF PEACE AND FREEDOM” in English and in French.

Size: 35mm in diameter.

Ribbon: 35mm wide, the ribbon is dark blue, the colour of NATO, with a medium white stripe towards each edge, in the centre of which is a narrow silver stripe. The clasp “ISAF” is worn on the medal ribbon.

Suspension: The ribbon is threaded through a 12mm diameter ring, which passes through a loop fixed to the top of the piece. The ring will move forwards and backwards.

The leadership of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) initially rotated, on an approximately six-monthly basis, between Britain, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands. On 11 August 2003, NATO assumed leadership of ISAF. This is the first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area in NATO’s history. Initially restricted to providing security in and around Kabul, the Alliance has expanded the mission to cover other parts of the country.
ISAF’s role is to assist the Government in Afghanistan and the international community in maintaining security within the force’s area of operations. ISAF supports the Afghan Transitional Authority in expanding its authority to the rest of the country, and in providing a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections, the spread of the rule of law, and the reconstruction of the country. ISAF was created in accordance with the Bonn Conference, in December 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime. Afghan opposition leaders attending the conference began the process of reconstructing their country by setting up a new government structure, namely the Afghan Transitional Authority.

As of November 2005, ISAF numbers about 12,400 troops from 35 NATO and non-NATO troop contributing countries.

New Zealand is contributing staff officers, instructors and S.A.S troops to this force.

Only those personnel who served in Afghanistan after 1 June 2003 are eligible for the award this medal.

General Eligibility Criteria:
Personnel eligible for the award are those who are members of units or staffs as set out in the Joint Operations Area (JOA) Combined Joint Statement of Requirements taking part in NATO operations in Afghanistan in accordance with the qualifying conditions. Entitlement will be acquired by those forces under NATO command or control whilst in the JOA, and those deployed to the JOA under national command in support of the NATO operation.

Area of Operation:
The Afghanistan JOA is delineated as the political boundaries and airspace of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) OPLAN 10302. The JOA includes Afghanistan and all neighbouring countries that have borders contiguous with Afghanistan where the force build up will be carried out and host elements of the force that provide direct support. Posts outside of the JOA are not eligible for the medal.

Qualifying Service:
The qualifying period in the Afghanistan JOA is thirty 30 days continuous or accumulated service from 1 June 2003 and a termination date, which will be notified by NATO.

Aircrew will accumulate one day’s service for the first sortie flown of any day in the Area of Operations; additional sorties flown on the same day receive no further credit. This requirement exists for support as well as combat aircraft; support aircraft include tanker, airlift and surveillance platforms.