Skip to comments.Pentagon to reconsider medals for UAV pilots and cyber warriors
Posted on 03/23/2014 8:23:15 AM PDT by markomalley
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a comprehensive review of the military decorations and awards program that will reconsider allowing drone operators and cyber warriors to be eligible to receive medals.
The one-year review, which will begin in June under Acting Undersecretary of Defense Jessica L. Wright, will consider the lessons of the last 13 years of combat in an effort to improve the program. Among the topics to be considered is whether the program reflects the joint nature of todays operations.
The goal of the review is to ensure that the awards program appropriately recognizes all levels of combat valor, said Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby.
It will examine the processes and procedures of how medals for valor are nominated in order to determine whether they can be improved or streamlined and help make the overall awards process more timely, Kirby said, and it will determine the best way to recognize service members who use remote technology to directly impact combat operations, such as through cyber and remotely piloted aircraft.
In 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that a Distinguished Warfare Medal had been created for UAV pilots and cyber warriors. Veterans and politicians heavily criticized the medal for ranking above the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart, both of which are earned in direct combat.
Designed to recognize soldiers who have an extraordinary impact on combat operations remotely, the medal was quickly retired by Hagel after he took office. DOD instead opted for the creation of a distinguishing device that could be added onto existing medals.
The review would reexamine that decision. That's part of the review, whether or not we should have a special device to go on another ribbon or [a new] medal," Kirby said, as reported by Military.com.
The review also would try to improve on existing nomination processes and procedures, and determine whether the program is too service-centric as joint military operations become more prevalent.
You don't have to look any farther than what we accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan to see how joint the services have become, Kirby said, and I think it's a fair question to ask: Do we need to look at the kinds of awards that we give, particularly for combat valor, in a more joint nature than perhaps some of them are? It doesnt mean that there will be changes, but I think he wants to look at everything across the whole scope.
We'll call it the Grace Hopper CSS medal.
I’m probably shortsighted and unappreciative here, but it’s tough to imagine giving the same type of medals to personnel that are essentially ‘playing video games’ as pilots, sailors, and soldiers who are right in the line of fire with their blood, sweat, and tears.
Yeah, and 60% disability for carpal tunnel in one arm; 100% if both arms are impacted.
Next, they will have virtual expeditionary medals for virtual deployments.
In all seriousness, great contributions have been made by men and women sitting at desks. Recognizing those contributions is totally appropriate.
What about hangnails? Or carpal tunnel syndrome?
Each branch of the service has "Achievement" medals, "Commendation" medals and the DOD has the Meritorious Service Medal. All of them awarded for sustained superior service. Always have had them, probably always will.
This is different.
hey, it’s like every parent getting a “my child was citizen of the month,” bumper sticker... notice how it does not claim “student of the month...” i hate where things are going...
Recognizing them is appropriate; ranking their medals above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart is not.
Many of these “cyber warriors” are taking jobs the services deem important and sometimes critical...some are volunteers, some are not.
They get passed over for promotion, they lag behind their peers in performance ratings and their chances for some of the Command and War Colleges is not the same as the rest.
These are the folks shooting the Hellfires into Toyota trucks in Yemen and other $hitholes in the Middle East blowing up Taliban and other muzzie pieces of garbage without putting any of our personnel at risk.
Is their job risky? I dare say not, but it does come at great cost to their career aspirations if they have any.
The addition of a medal is a stupid way to try and bring balance to this equation...
You’re forgetting the most obvious injury from this, carpal tunnel syndrome. Also there’s ODing on Red Bull.
I think that this article is somewhat misleading. While they are certainly going to relook the video game medal, they are taking a much broader view, especially the large differences among the services in their awards systems and practices.
A case in point is the Afghanistan fight that resulted in the award of two Medals of Honor (1 Army and 1 Marine Corps) and two Navy Crosses along with lesser awards. These recommendations took different paths, were all wrapped up in political intrigue, and were long delayed. This incident illustrates much of what is wrong with our awards system.
This review should also include the proliferation of ribbons and medals that are handed out for attending a military training course or just doing a routing job. These type of awards used to be an Air Force phenomenon, but all the services, including the Marine Corps, have jumped on board and make career service members all look like North Korean generals. Unfortunately, we’ll probably get more of this nonsense, not less.
Cyber/Dronewarfare service ribbon only and be done with it.
No Global War on Terror Exped. No brass borders. No bronze star devices. No ISAF tab. Nothing for Afghanistan or Iraq.
Some of us served our countries more than others. Quit bitching, go back to your desk, and be grateful your life is easier than others.
There are Achievement and Commendation medals for those kinds of thing. It might make sense to have another class of medal that recognizes direct influence on combat operations without putting yourself at risk—something above and beyond pure “support”.
I guess the Nightime Weekend Assistant to the Assistant Deputy Associate Commander needs their gold star.
I don't begrudge anyone who is wearing the uniform of the US Armed Services, but IIRC, Medals of VALOR are given for heroic activities under enemy fire.
Having your drone shot at when you are sitting at a desk 7000 miles from the field of battle does not seem to me to be an act of valor.
We have Navy Seals who have made 10 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and are burned out. They are getting out at 15 years with no benefits. In the meantime we have armchair warriors staying in to get 20 or 30 with little exposure to the risks of combat. It isn’t fair to those who put their butts on the line. We need a system that rewards our real hero’s and risk takers.
..........it’s a possible way for the Marxists in the whitehouse to back door medals to REMF’s that would otherwise never get one.
a lot of REMF’s tend to be gay, transgendered and female.
Obviously, to anyone with a brain, medals for joystick jockeys thousands of miles from any combat devalue REAL COMBAT HERO’s..................and that is exactly what these diseased minds (Marxists in the whitehouse) want....
There are Achievement and Commendation medals for those kinds of thing. It might make sense to have another class of medal that recognizes direct influence on combat operations without putting yourself at risksomething above and beyond pure support.
That’s about right. AAMs, and ARCOMs, certainly fall into what they should be getting for good service, with perhaps some rarely awarded award for truly exceptional actions...but the valor descriptor really only applies to risking getting messed over by the administration/heir archly...and no way it deserves a bronze star level award.
I feel sorry for these parents who are in such dire need of social recognition.
What a joke but then again they give medals to desk-jockeys.
Totally the wrong attitude with this as giving awards for sitting in an air conditioned room doing the equivalent of playing a video game is not worthy of the same kind of awards as someone that is putting his life on the line.
That said there seems to be a lot of people that like the thought of drones an/or remotely controlled robots for fighting the “war on terror”. I don’t for the simple fact that they make killing people a risk-less proposition for weak willed politicians like Obama. Which means that they are even more likely to be misused than other military options which will eventually create even more instability in the world not less.
Social engineers lap this stuff up, generate it and promote it. It fuels their purposes.
I know a group of six Marines who received the Navy Achievement Medal.
“The Achievement Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement or meritorious service not of a nature that would otherwise warrant awarding the Commendation Medal...it is generally only awarded to officers in the pay grade of O-4 and below and enlisted personnel below the grade of E-7.”
“For instance, in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal is considered a somewhat high decoration reserved for Department Head level officers at the O-4 level, senior Navy CPOs and senior Marine Corps NCOs at the E-8 and E-9 level and, following a full career, as a retirement award.”
So, the Navy Achievement Medal ranks lower than the Navy Commendation Medal, which is often given “as a retirement award” (in lieu of a Gold Watch, perhaps?)
What did these six Marines do to earn their Navy Achievement Medals? Oh, they spent 11 days crawling through Vietcong tunnels. These tunnels were mostly three feet wide and three feet high and were infested with cockroaches, fleas, lice & large spiders and had been pumped full of CS gas. Since the VC had been trapped in the tunnels for several weeks, they had left “deposits” in various places on the floor of the pitch dartk tunnel. Part of the team managed to capture 41 VC while wandering around through the thousands of feet of tunnels. Since the VC were armed, the Marines were awarded the Combat “V” device to be worn with their medals.
Award the Drone Operators an Achievement Medal, with the “JS” device (JS=”Joy Stick”)... or a Gold Watch, if they had to spend more than 8 hours in their office chairs during stressful shifts.
Everyone is totally ignoring the real impact of this absolutely stupid concept of medals for REMFs.
Up to the point of establishing an official award program you could politically deny any activity conducted by drones and cyber geeks. Since there is no official recognition of these events they never happened. The first MEDAL CITATION changes all of that; just read any citation for any serious combat award.
I remember the impact that the Francis Gary Powers U-2 shoot down, May 1, 1960, had on international relations. Does anyone want to bet that the future shoot down of a drone or discovery of a cyber attack will be any different once both acts are officially acknowledged as active, approved, and supported US programs? BTW - Russia, and others, claim to have already shot down US drones operating over their sovereign airspace.
Sounds like your Marine friends got cheated. Of course, life isn’t fair, especially when it comes to the awarding of medals. Very, very subjective.
Then perhaps instead of issuing official medals, we’ll give the best drone operators a trophy of some kind for office bragging rights, and a reserved good parking place outside. Could be a gold plated Playstation 4 Controller or something.
Here’s a simple solution. Medals for valor should be given ONLY for valor on the battlefield. Sadly, the bronze star requires a “V” device for it to be a battlefield valor award. The Silver Star, on the other hand, requires no “V” device for it must be for combat valor.
What many don’t know is that the equivalent level non-combat awards are already there. The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) is the non-combat level award for the Bronze Star. The Legion of Merit (LOM) parallels the Silver Star. There is no parallel to the Medal of Honor and there shouldn’t be.
Award the UAV pilots an MSM. Instead of confusing the valor medals, approve the addition of a “CS” pin to the serice medal, this is, Combat Support.
Also, make the Bronze Star ONLY for valor, so that there is clarity about it when seen in any military member’s records. The MSM with CS device will be far more appropriate for great service that does not involve combat valor. The same with the LOM.
Also, fix the awards system for Special Operations troops. Often they are engaged in real combat in places where we aren’t supposed to be in combat. Find clandestine ways of awarding clandestine awards that sometimes must forever remain classified.
Gives new meaning to ‘I’ve been there’ awards.
I totally agree. There are skills involved for UAV pilots and I believe it appropriate to recognize those skills, but not with valor awards.
Also your suggestion the Bronze Star only be awarded for valor is a good one, the BS without V is awarded wholesale to higher ranking officers and NCO’s in combat zones.
appropriately recognizes all levels of combat valor,
combat valor requires YOU to be in the combat physically..
Army Lt Gen Stillwell showed up in the middle of their time in the tunnels and said, “Wonderful job you are doing! I’ll see that you all get Bronze Stars and a promotion to sergeant! (all were PFC’s & L/Cpls at the time).
Naturally, nothing ever came of that.
The USMC does not pass out either promotions or medals that easily, especially to “snuffies”.
Hey, everyone made it home in basically one piece. One of the team had a ChiCom grenade thrown in his foxhole. He kicked it into the grenade sump then curled up in the corner. A piece of shrapnel gave him a non-life-threatening cut on the neck. Two days later his medevac helo was shot down and he took a round through the bicep, missing bone, tenon & blood vessels. Two Purple Hearts, so they took him off patrolling. He was at Hill 55 guarding the tent with all our seabags when Charlie chucked a dud-refused 250# bomb at it. My buddy took a piece of shrapnel in the calf muscle.
Three relatively easy hearts - rotate home! Three and a half months in Vietnam!
It’s a travesty what they do with the Bronze Star and the higher ranking. And MSM with “CS” or “C” would be more than sufficient.
Sorry, but those people operating the drones and satellites are part of the team as well as the gun-toters and airdales, and in many cases, were ordered to do so despite the dead-end damage to their military careers. They deserve some sort of recognition too, otherwise retention in those critical missions areas will plummet.
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