Established on June 4, 1981, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award honors superior unit service in joint activities on behalf of the Department of Defense in excess of expectations and in the event of combat against hostile forces, a national emergency, or other extenuating circumstances affecting the nation. Service dating back to January 23, 1979 is eligible and must have been carried out over a minimum term of thirty days.
The ribbon is bisected by a red stripe flanked on either side by a thin white stripe, a thicker blue stripe, a thin yellow stripe, and blue edging. It features a gold frame with a leaf pattern.
Subsequent awards may be indicated by oak leaf clusters.