National Defence Medal

The National Defence Medal (French: "Médaille de la Défense nationale") is a French military decoration. It was created by Charles Hernu, Minister of Defence and established by decree on 21 April 1982. It rewards particularly honourable service rendered by military personnel for their participation in operational activities. The medal has three levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze.[1]

National Defence Medal
Medaille de la defense nationale or.jpg
National Defence Medal, Gold grade (obverse)
TypeMedal with three classes (Gold, Silver and Bronze)
Awarded forParticularly honorable service rendered to the French military
Valor not involving combat with the enemy
Presented by France
EligibilityFrench citizens and foreign nationals
StatusCurrently awarded
Established21 April 1982
Next (higher)Overseas Medal
Next (lower)Medal for voluntary military service


For military serviceEdit

The award is made by decision of the military hierarchy, but the recipients must have achieved a personal minimum of:

  • For the Bronze level: 1 year of service and accumulated 90 points;
  • For the Silver level: 5 years of service (minimum 2 years in the Bronze level) and accumulated 600 points;
  • For the Gold level: 10 years of service (minimum 2 years in the Silver grade) and accumulated 800 points[1]

The yearly quota of Gold and Silver level awards are set by the minister of defence. Points are earned through participation in exercises, operations, proficiency, initiative, awards received, etc.[1] People who had been awarded the Légion d'honneur or the Ordre national du Mérite can not receive the National Defence Medal.

Exceptional circumstancesEdit

The medal can be awarded in any one of the three levels to:

  • Military personnel on active duty or in reserves and civilians killed or injured in the line of duty;
  • Active military or reservists which have distinguished themselves by the quality of their service;
  • French civilians and foreign military personnel or civilians who have rendered honourable services particularly important to the defence of France[1]

Mention in DispatchesEdit

When an individual is mentioned in dispatches (citation dans les ordres) for heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. He or she is awarded the Médaille de la Défense Nationale at the Gold level, adorned with a ribbon device (bronze, silver, silver gilt star or bronze palm) depending on the level (regiment, brigade, division, army) of the mention, in the same manner as for the Croix de Guerre.[1]

Award descriptionEdit

Medal and ribbonEdit

The National Defence Medal is a 36 mm in diameter circular medal struck from bronze, the gold level is gilt, the silver award is silvered. The obverse bears the relief image of Rude's Marseillaise with the relief inscription along the upper circumference "FRENCH REPUBLIC" (French: RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE). The reverse bears the relief image of a Phrygian cap over a laurel branch and the inscription along the medal circumference in the upper half "ARMY" and "NATION", in the lower half "NATIONAL DEFENSE" (French: "ARMÉE" "NATION" "DÉFENSE NATIONALE"), the upper and lower inscriptions being separated by a relief five pointed star on each side[1]

The medal hangs from a ring through the medal's suspension loop. The bronze grade award's ribbon is a 36 mm wide red silk moiré ribbon with a 12 mm wide central blue stripe. The ribbon for the silver grade award is similar with the addition of 3 mm wide white edge stripes, the edge stripes are yellow for the gold grade award[1]

Gold grade
obverse & ribbon
Silver grade
obverse & ribbon
Bronze grade
obverse & ribbon
Gold grade for
mentions in
obverse & ribbon
Gold grade
reverse & ribbon
With clasps:
With clasps:
With clasp:
With palm for an
Army level citation
Common reverse
for all grades


General Bruno Dary, a recipient of the Silver grade of the National Defense Medal
Admiral Pierre-François Forissier, a recipient of the Silver grade of the National Defense Medal
Admiral Édouard Guillaud, a recipient of the Bronze grade of the National Defense Medal

Multiple specialty and geographical clasps are allowed for wear on the ribbon, each grade being allowed a single clasp up to a maximum of three.[1] As of 29 January 2021 the following clasps are awarded:[2]

Geographical clasps
Speciality clasps
Obsolete clasps
  • Forces françaises stationnées en Allemagne
  • Missions d'assistance extérieure
  • Commissariat armée de terre
  • Force Aérienne Tactique
  • Fusiliers Commandos de l'Air
  • Transport Aérien
  • Intendance
  • Commandement air des systèmes de surveillance, d'information et de communications
  • Commandement des Écoles de l'Armée de l'Air
  • Force Aérienne de Combat
  • Force Aérienne de Projection
  • Forces de protection et de sécurité de l'armée de l'air

Notable recipients (partial list)Edit

Gold gradeEdit

Silver gradeEdit

Bronze gradeEdit

Exceptional circumstancesEdit

  • USA Major General Charles Hooper (Gold grade with clasp "INFANTERIE")[3]
  • USA Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Ritsick (Gold grade with clasp "INFANTERIE")[4]

Mentions in dispatchesEdit

  • USAF Captain John Mosier (Gold grade with bronze star)[5]
  • USAF Technical Sergeant Kristopher Burridge (Gold grade with bronze star)[5]
  • USAF Senior Airman Jackson Rogers (Gold grade with bronze star)[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Battini, Jean; Zaniewicki, Witold (2003). Guide pratique des décorations françaises actuelles. Paris: LAVAUZELLE. pp. 157–161. ISBN 2-7025-1030-2.
  2. ^ "ARRÊTÉ du 29 janvier 2021 relatif aux agrafes figurant sur la médaille de la défense nationale J.O. n° 26 du 30 janvier 2021 - Texte n° 15 NOR : ARMM2100597A". LegiFrance. Journal Officiel de la République Française. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  3. ^ "MG Charles Hooper Award Ceremony".
  4. ^ JILL WHALEN (2010-03-20). "McAdoo Guardsman receives French honor". Republican Herald. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c U.S.A.F. Staff Sgt. John Wright (2011-07-15). "French award National Defense Gold Medal to pararescue Airmen". U.S. Air Force Central. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2012.