Reverse: On an arc at the top the inscription
"For Superior Service" above the pentagon which bears the inscription "From The Secretary of Defense To", all silver.
Symbolism: The pentagon refers to the five
armed services, the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard (in time of war) and Air Force. It also alludes to the headquarters
of the Department of Defense. The configuration of the eagle bearing the shield of the United States and grasping three arrows
upon a medium blue background together with an arc of thirteen stars and wreath of laurel and olive refers to the seal of
the Department of Defense and indicates the award of the medal in the name of the Secretary of Defense. The conjoined stars
and silver rays signify unity and excellence in the performance of the mission of the Department of Defense on behalf of the
Ribbon: A ribbon 1 3/8 inch (3.49cm) in
width composed of the following vertical stripes: Golden Yellow 3/16 inch (.48cm), Bluebird 1/4 inch (.64cm), White 3/16 inch
(.48cm), Scarlet 1/8 inch (.32cm), White 3/16 inch (.48cm), Bluebird 1/4 inch (.64cm) Golden Yellow 3/16 inch (.48cm).
Background: a. Authorized by E.O. 11904,
February 6, 1976.
b. The Defense Superior Service Medal (DSSM) shall be awarded
only to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, after February 6, 1976, rendered superior meritorious service
in a position of significant responsibility. Only under the most unusual circumstances will DSSM be awarded as an impact award
for outstanding TDY achievement. The DSSM is specifically intended to recognize exceptionally superior service, and
to honor an individual's accomplishments over a sustained period.
c. The DSSM shall be awarded only by the Secretary of Defense.
(1) The Director, Joint Staff, for
the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff has been delegated approval or disapproval authority for Service members assigned
to the Joint Staff, and those Service members assigned to Joint organizations. That authority may not be delegated further.
(2) Approval or disapproval authority
for all other qualifying Service members is delegated to the DA&M, OSD, for the ASD (FMP). The authority may not be delegated
d. The DSSM shall be placed in precedence after the MOH, the
Distinguished Service Crosses of the Services, the DDSM, the Distinguished Service Medals of the Services, and the Silver
Star, but before the Legion of Merit.
e. Recommendations approved by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff shall be processed entirely by the Joint Staff. All other recommendations shall be forwarded to the Chief, Military
Personnel Division, Personnel and Security Directorate, WHS, for processing. Recommendations should be submitted no later
than 90 days before desired presentation date.