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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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March 5, 2013 - 12:46 pm

House members are taking issue with a new Defense Department medal’s prominence in the hierarchy of military awards.

The Pentagon announced last month the creation of a new medal to adapt to a new era of technological warfare — and reward drone operators for well-placed strikes.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to service members whose extraordinary achievements, regardless of their distance to the traditional combat theater, deserve distinct department-wide recognition.

“I have seen first-hand how modern tools like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems have changed the way wars can be fought,” said former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the time. “We should also have the ability to honor extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight.”

But House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel Chairman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and 48 other lawmakers asked new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to reconsider the DoD decision to place it above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the order of precedence.

Several Democrats signed the letter, including Iraq War combat veteran and double amputee Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

“We are supportive of recognizing and rewarding such extraordinary service but in the absence of the service member exposing him or herself to imminent mortal danger, we cannot support the DWM taking precedence above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The current order of precedence for the DWM is a disservice to Purple Heart recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country or were wounded while serving in combat. The imminent danger area requirement of the Bronze Star historically means that a service member has been deployed overseas for a military operation involving conflict with an opposing armed force,” they continued.

The lawmakers asked Hagel to “lower the precedence of the DWM to an appropriate level below the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.”

Wilson said the precedence of the new medal “does a disservice to our service members and veterans who have severed overseas in hostile and austere conditions.”

“It is my hope that Secretary Hagel will change the Department’s decision so that our veterans who have earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart will receive the appropriate recognition they deserve,” Wilson said.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
You're telling us the terrorists know who's operating the drones and are planning to hunt them down? That former drone operators live in actual fear for their lives? Pretty far fetched. Anyway, there's no comparison between the possibility that you might be on a jihadi's hit list and the definite fact of being shot at or shot up in a combat zone.
1 year ago
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All Comments   (13)
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As an Air Force vet I think it belongs alongside the Good Conduct Medal.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A medal for this already exists...it's called the Meritorious Service Medal. To quote, "it is awarded to those armed forces members who distinguished themselves by outstanding meritorious achievement or service to the United States subsequent to January 16, 1969. The MSM was previously awarded as a decoration for achievement during peacetime; effective 11 September 2001, this decoration may also be bestowed in lieu of the Bronze Star Medal for non-combat meritorious achievement in a designated combat theater. Normally, the acts or services rendered must be comparable to that required for the Legion of Merit but in a duty of lesser, though considerable, responsibility." It ranks just above the Air Medal and below the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
So why in the heck is DOD creating yet another medal for outstanding service? Medals used to mean actual meritorious achievement, now medals are almost a given at the end of every tour...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Medals have value when they are seen as rare commendations for merit and valor. The rarer the medal, the harder to acquire, the more prestige it holds. Medals hold prestige when everyone knows that it takes unusual courage and skill to be awarded this or that medal. Keep things in perspective.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, the IMAX of war is equivalent to the theatre of war?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No. Double-Plus-Ungood.

There's no personal danger i being a drone pilot. Therefore...

One wonders why that appears to be a "Rocket Science" concept.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

The military awards medals in two basic categories, merit and valor. Your article doesn't really address that issue, so I'm not sure if this proposed medal is intended to fall in the former or latter category.

To confuse things a bit more, some medals, like the mentioned Bronze Star, can be awarded for merit or, with the addition of the "V" device, for valor.

In these days of "Everybody gets a trophy", I'm not overly surprised that a new qualifying category would emerge. I think that my recommendation would have been for a "Distinguished Tubefare Medal" though.

Back during my all-expense-paid tour of sunny Southeast Asia, there was a brouhaha about the entitlement to combat pay with those in the actual combat arms branches, Infantry, Artillery, and Armor, being more than somewhat miffed that the rest of the military (sometimes referred to as "clerks and jerks") not only got it but got the same amount. So, I sit with somewhat bated breath, awaiting developments on that front.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Next, they will probably issue virtual Purple Heart medals to drone operators who become mentally wounded or acquire PTSD.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am really good at Mario Kaart, having unlocked all of the avatars and (most of) the vehicles. Nintendo gives me gold stars but maybe the government should give me something.

But seriously, we need to keep in mind that the bad uys are also going to have drones some day. We need to be thinking about the RoEs and the oral implications of drones controlled from a distance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One of the reasons there are medals is to reward behaviors that you want more of.

It must be like the best video game in the world. What would be required to remove all inhibition from a government operator, playing Drone Strike 3D, so that he would be willing to operate within CONUS?

Like I said, you reward the behavior you want more of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This new medal must have been created by an Air Force Officer with promotion in mind. What bravery it must take to sit in a location thousands of miles away from the action and press buttons.

I'm not saying that their actions aren't necessary, but they're not being shot at or bleeding out from wounds and the worst that can happen is eye strain and butt sores with the occasional carpal tunnel flareup.





1 year ago
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