Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told lawmakers he will be reviewing their concerns about the proposed precedence of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal over combat medals including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
The DWM is intended to recognize those outside the theater of combat, such as drone operators.
“Secretary Hagel consulted with the chairman, the Joint Chiefs, and the service secretaries, and those with the decision to establish the medal was carefully and thoroughly analyzed within the Department of Defense,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said at today’s Pentagon press briefing. “That being said, in light of concerns about the medal’s place in the order of precedence, Secretary Hagel will work with the senior leadership to review the order of precedence and associated matters, and the secretary has asked that Chairman Dempsey lead this review and report back in 30 days.”
In the meantime, production on the medal has been stopped.
“The medals awarded to men and women in harm’s way, facing enemy fire, are very special indeed and should remain so,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). “I appreciate that it appears Secretary Hagel has heard my concerns and those of Pennsylvania’s service members. It seems he has agreed to take another look. I wrote former Defense Secretary Panetta to ask for his rationale on the medal’s ranking when I first learned of this decision in February. While I fully support appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am concerned about this new medal’s ranking in DOD’s order of precedence.
“This is a good first step to properly honor Montanans and all Americans who put their lives on the line for their country. The nature of war is changing, but folks who serve directly in the theater of war are at greater risk,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “I will keep working to make sure the medals earned on the battlefield get the respect they deserve.”
“Secretary Hagel’s decision to reevaluate the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s precedence above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star is a welcomed one, especially to our veterans who raised their objections to the Defense Department’s medal ranking,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said. “Although I recognize that the standard practices of war are changing, our brave warriors who face life and death situations deserve the most distinguished medals the United States military awards. I will be following the review process carefully and look forward to a full report.”