On 11 August 1969, The Commanding General, U.S. Continental Army Command recommended the creation of a medal to be awarded to Reserve personnel that would be the equivalent to the Good Conduct Medal for the Active Army. On 29 January 1970, it was asked by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, that The Institute of Heraldry (TIOH) give projected designs for the medal to the Secretary of the Army to consider.
The Secretary of the Army received the designs in May 1970 and on 3 March 1971, approved the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal.
The achievement of the recipient is symbolized by the star, and the twelve points of the star represent the time spent in continuous meritorious service. A circle of perfection is symbolized by the inner disc with the torch signifying guidance and the laurel indicating honor and glory. One sword for active and one sword which denotes reserve confirm the ever readiness and the two stars represent equality of effort. Patriotism is symbolized by our National colors, the red, white and blue, while the gold denotes merit.
AGR soldiers and officers are not approved for the ARCAM. Enlisted personnel and officers in the grade of Colonel or below can be awarded the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal. Later awards are shown by an oak-leaf cluster being added to the ribbon.
The Reserve Components Achievement Medal is a Bronze medal of 1 ¼ inches in diameter. The face of the medal has a beveled edge twelve-pointed star with the points of the star lying over a laurel wreath. Centered in the star is a smaller laurel wreath with a torch between two swords pointed upward, crossed and bordered by two mullets. Centered below the words "ARMY NATIONAL GUARD" or "UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE" and above "FOR ACHIEVEMENT" on the reverse side is the cuirass from the Department of the Army seal.
Reserve Components Achievement Medal’s ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and has seven stripes. The first stripe is 5/16 inch of Old Glory, followed by 1/8 inch of Ultramarine Blue and 1/16 inch of White. The middle stripe is 3/8 inch of Scarlet, followed by 1/16 inch of White, 1/8 inch of Ultramarine Blue and the last stripe is 5/16 inch of Old Gold.
An Army National Guard or Army Reserve Troop Program Unit or as an individual mobilization augmentee is awarded the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal for exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity during their time of service for each period of four years since 3 March 1972. A modification to this order was made 28 March 1995, for the amount of time required for service to be reduced to three years, but this modification was not retroactive. The time spent in service must have been uninterrupted, and service with the Reserve Component of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard is not accepted for the award. It is required that the recipient be recommended the award by his/her unit commander for honest and faithful service in keeping with the principles of behavior, courage, and duty demanded by law and customs of the service of a member of the same grade as the individual to whom the standard is being applied.