The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is a military award that was established on June 4, 1981 by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and was implemented by Department of Defense Directive 1348.27 dated July 22, 1982. The Joint Meritorious Unit Award was made retroactive to January 23, 1979.
The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is the only ribbon award granted by the Department of Defense and is the organizational equivalent of the Defense Superior Service Medal. It is awarded to joint units or activities where the joint activity must either report through Unified, Combined, or Specified Command channels or pursue a joint mission under the cognizance of the Secretary of Defense; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the commander of a Unified, Specified or Combined Command that is also a joint command; or the Secretary of a military department that has been designated the Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense.
The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is a ribbon, enclosed in a gold frame, and is very similar to the Defense Superior Service Medal. Subsequent decorations of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award are annotated with oak leaf clusters.