Medals are a new thing in Mud and Blood Recon. Now you, the commander, can reward individual Rangers as you see fit. How does it work? When your team performs particularly well you will be allowed to give medals to some of your Rangers. It is entirely up to you as of who gets what medals. It is, however, a good practice to reward deserving soldiers. The effect of medals are varied and most of the time quite significant. This add another layer of customization and most importantly management to the game. This way some commander will create a walking legend with a stack of medals (and wicked bonuses) or some will opt for a more evenly distributed approach.
To assign a medal simply click on the medal and select a soldier. This must be done in the debrief panel. Unassigned medals will be lost.
So it important to differentiate medals (given to soldiers by you) and ribbons (given to you by high command).