Under Pressure, Hagel Replaces Dronefare Medal with 'Distinguishing Device'
After pushback from Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to roll back plans for the dronefare medal.
On Feb. 13, the Pentagon established of the Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize the achievements of "a small number of service men and women who have an especially direct and immediate impact on combat operations through the use of remotely piloted aircraft and cyber operations."
Lawmakers were concerned about the proposed precedence of the new medal over combat medals including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Production on the DWM was stopped after Hagel agreed to review the medal.
"While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition, it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose," Hagel said in a statement today.
"The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women," he continued. "I agree with the Joint Chiefs' findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Hagel's statement confirmed why he voted for his confirmation: "Simply put, he does the right thing."
"Secretary Hagel’s commonsense approach to reviewing this important issue proves to our combat veterans that their sacrifices are valued," Manchin gushed. "I truly am grateful for his leadership and for his willingness to listen to all who care so deeply about this issue."
House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel Chairman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) said he was "very pleased" with Hagel's decision.
"Service members who operate remotely piloted aircraft or participate in cyber operations do deserve our praise; however, awarding them with a medal that takes precedence over a decoration earned in combat is a disservice to those who have put themselves in harms way to protect and defend our freedoms," Wilson said. "This change is welcomed by millions of concerned veterans and I am proud that the Secretary sided with the best interests of our brave men and women in the Armed Services who have served in combat."