[Rushtalk] Arm Chair Operator Medal put on hold

Carl Spitzer Winblows at lavabit.com
Fri Mar 29 09:59:27 MDT 2013

I think this time he gets it right.  Medals should be for getting shot

Hagel Halts Production of Drone Pilot Medals

Mar 12, 2013

Military.com| by Richard Sisk

The Pentagon has the Distinguished Warfare Medal for drone pilots and
cyber warfare specialists that will rank higher in the order of
precedence for military decorations than the Bronze Star with Combat V.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday halted production of the new
Distinguished Warfare Medal for drone pilots and cyberwarriors, and
ordered a review of its ranking above the Bronze Star with Combat "V"
and the Purple Heart.

Hagel announced the review following heated criticism from Congress and
veterans groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. No servicemember
has received the medal thus far, said George Little, the Pentagon's
chief spokesman.

The defense secretary directed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to conduct the review of the medal's position
in the "order of precedence" for military decorations and report back to
him in 30 days, Little said.

In addition, "production of the medal as designed has been stopped"
pending the review by Dempsey, Little said.

In one of his last acts as Pentagon chief, former Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta last month announced that the Distinguished Warfare Medal was
being created to recognize "the changing character of warfare" in the
Internet era in which servicemembers sitting at consoles in the United
States can directly impact the outcome of battle with an enemy overseas.

Panetta said that as CIA Director and then Pentagon chief he had "seen
first-hand how modern tools like remotely-piloted platforms and cyber
systems have changed the way wars can be fought, changed the course of
battle even from afar."

But the medal's ranking, just below the Distinguished Flying Across and
ahead of the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Purple Heart, provoked
a firestorm of criticism in Congress and among veterans groups who
charged that the new medal was a disservice to those who earned their
decorations directly in harm's way.

The initial Pentagon response was to defend the medal's placement in the
"order of precedence," but Little made clear that Hagel, himself the
recipient of two Purple Hearts for service as an Army sergeant in
Vietnam, had given serious thought to the critics.

"He has heard their concerns," Little said, and in the E-ring corridors
of the Pentagon "there has been considerable discussion on the creation
of the Distinguished Warfare Medal.

As recently as March 8, Hagel wrote a letter to the VFW in which he said
he was satisfied with the ranking of the new medal.

"I have discussed at length the reasoning and process leading up to
establishing the DWM with the [service secretaries and chiefs] and
accept their judgment that the award is at the appropriate level," Hagel
said in his letter.

However, Hagel has since changed his mind and opened up a review of the

"In light of the concerns, a review of the order of precedence and
associated matters" involving the medal was ordered by Hagel, Little

Hagel has not spoken to Panetta about his decision to review the medal's
standing, but "former Secretary Panetta has been advised of the decision
to conduct the review," Little said.

In a statement, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which has lobbied to
change the medal's ranking, said Hagel's action was encouraging "but
demoting the medal below the Purple Heart is not yet a done deal, which
is why the VFW will continue to urge the White House and Congress to
force the Pentagon to do the right thing for our combat forces."

In voicing his opposition to the new medal, VFW Commander John Hamilton
said that "this is a policy disagreement over the placement of the new
medal, not whether drone operators, cyber warriors and others don't
deserve to be properly recognized for the tremendous impact they are
bringing to the battlefield in real-time."

In a posting on his website Monday, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said: "While
I fully support appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose
extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am
concerned about this decision and the new medal's ranking in DOD's order
of precedence."

"Pennsylvania's veterans and others have told me of their concerns with
ranking the new medal above some combat valor medals, such as the Bronze
Star Medal with valor device," Toomey said.

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