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.