Trump’s directive is highly unusual. Achievement awards are issued to service members routinely as a means of recognizing what unit leaders deem exemplary performance by their subordinates. Unlike the military’s more prestigious awards, which can require extensive vetting and multiple layers of review by the most senior Defense Department officials, achievement medals can be approved by individual commands.

The only military decoration that requires a president’s direct endorsement is the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.

Nevertheless, the achievement awards puzzled some because Gallagher’s prosecution was widely seen as an embarrassment to the Navy. A judge sanctioned the lawyers for their handling of aspects of the case.