Civil servants working for the Ministry of Defence in Afghanistan are entitled to receive the same Operational Service Medal as front line troops.
The medal is presented to bureaucrats who have spent time at Camp Bastion, the British headquarters, by ministers at official ceremonies.
But critics said it was “offensive” that civil servants who work only at Army bases or accompanying ministers on walkabouts should be given the same medal as the troops who face the Taliban on a daily basis.
A total of 235 British forces personnel have died while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001, but no civil servants have been killed.
The latest revelation comes after figures showed that MoD staff have been paid £47 million in performance bonuses so far this year.
MoD staff are being paid more than £8,000 a month for working in Afghanistan, nearly five times as much some soldiers on the front line.
It comes as Gordon Brown prepares to announce the deployment of a further 500 troops to take the British forces deployment to 9,500 in the war-torn country.
The circular silver Operational Service Medal replaced the General Service Medal in 2000 and has been handed out for service in Iraq, Sierra Leone and the Congo.