|Type Commemorative Medal|
Established 11 January 1958
|Status No longer awarded|
|Eligibility French citizens and foreign nationals serving in the ranks of the French Foreign Legion|
Awarded for Military service in North Africa between 1952 and 1964
Next (higher) Indochina Campaign commemorative medal
The Commemorative Medal for Security Operations and the Maintenance of Order (French: "Médaille Commémorative des Opérations de Sécurité et de Maintien de l'Ordre en Afrique du Nord") is a French commemorative medal established in the late 1950s for award to members of the French armed forces and French civil servants under military authority for service in French North Africa during the hectic years that would become the end of French colonialism in the region.
The war in Algeria was and remains a sensitive subject for France, the events were only first openly officially identified as a war in 1999. The Médaille Coloniale ("Colonial Medal") or Médaille d'Outre-Mer ("Overseas Medal") were for service overseas and the Croix de Guerre ("War Cross") was for service in wartime against an exterior enemy. There was no award at the time to recognize and reward combat service on what was essentially French soil. A medal was initially created by decree 56-1032 of 12 October 1956 and called the Médaille Commémorative des Opérations de Sécurité et de Maintien de l'Ordre en Afrique du Nord (English: "Commemorative Medal for Security Operations and Maintenance of Order in North Africa"). It was designed to fill this void and recognize their service in what was officially called a "police action" to quell disorder, rather than a military campaign against an armed and organized enemy. Decree 58-24 of 11 January 1958 modified the design and renamed the award to "Médaille Commémorative des Opérations de Sécurité et de Maintien de l'Ordre" (English: "Security and Order Operations Commemorative Medal").
Under pressure for years by veterans' organizations and from the personnel who served during the handovers in Tunisia and Morocco to get commemorative medals of their own, the French government finally ceded by a decree dated 26 July 2004 with an amendment to the 1958 decree governing the award. Rather than design a new medal for each operation in North Africa, the government decided to extend the eligibility, the existing medal could then be awarded to anyone who had served in North Africa during the 1950s and 1960s.
The North Africa Security and Order Operations Commemorative Medal was awarded to:
Five different gilt clasps could be earned and worn simultaneously when awarded.
North Africa Security and Order Operations Commemorative Medal is a 30mm in diameter circular medal struck from bronze and gilded. The obverse, engraved by Georges Lemaire, bore an allegorical image of the warrior French Republic wearing a helmet adorned with and oak leaf wreath and surrounded by the relief inscription along the medal circumference "RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE" (English: "FRENCH REPUBLIC"). On the reverse, the relief inscription on five lines "MÉDAILLE" "COMMÉMORATIVE" "OPÉRATIONS SÉCURITÉ" "ET MAINTIEN" "DE L'ORDRE" (English: "MEDAL" "COMMEMORATIVE" "SECURITY OPERATIONS" "AND MAINTAINING" "ORDER") surrounded by a wreath of oak and olive leaves along the medal circumference. The pre January 1958 variant had the reverse inscription on four lines "MÉDAILLE" "COMMÉMORATIVE" "D'AFRIQUE" "DU NORD" (English: "NORTH" "AFRICA" "COMMEMORATIVE" "MEDAL").
The medal hung from a ribbon passing through a wreath shaped ring through the medal's suspension loop. The red silk moiré ribbon was 36mm wide with a 14mm central light blue stripe and two 5mm wide white stripes each 1mm from the edge.