The Pentagon has created 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 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. “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.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the criteria for the medal “will be highly selective and reflect high standards.”
“This new medal recognizes the changing character of warfare and those who make extraordinary contributions to it,” he said.
The Distinguished Warfare Medal will sit directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross. It may be awarded for actions in any domain but not involving acts of valor.
Panetta also stipulated that it will not be awarded for actions prior to Sept. 11, 2001.
“The member’s actions must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from comrades or from other persons in similar situations,” Panetta wrote in a memo to DoD employees.
Directly impacting operations, according to the guidelines, means “hands-on employment of a weapons system, including remote employment, or other activities in any domain, that had direct, immediate, and on-site effects on the outcome of an engagement or other operation intended to have an effect upon the target.”