Service members and Pentagon civilian employees who served in support of recent NATO missions in Africa could qualify for awards. On July 23, the Defense Department approved medals for participants in anti-piracy actions under Operation Allied Protector between March and August 2009 and Operation Allied Provider between October and December 2008, and Operation Ocean Shield, which began in August 2009. Also, those who participated in Operation Unified Protector in February and March of 2011 may also qualify for medals. Operation Unified Protector supported activities that led to the overthrow of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Persons who believe they may have earned the medals should contact their personnel offices.