The U.S. military has decided to stop production and reconsider the first new military combat medal in seventy years. The Distinguished Warfare Medal that will honor remote warfare specialists, including drone operators and other technologists who serve with distinction. According to a March 12 Yahoo News article, veterans and lawmakers complained about the Distinguished Warfare Medal, prompting a production halt and investigation.
The major complaint about the Distinguished Warfare Medal is a surprising one that has nothing to do with public opinion about using drones in warfare. The complaints address the way the remote warfare medal ranks above two of the military’s top ground and direct combat awards.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal ranks higher than the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, according to a March 11 Navy Times article.
“The order of precedence" places the new remote warfare medal above medals that are awarded for serving with distinction or being injured in direct combat, on the front lines or while in harms way.
The top Republican and Democratic senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote a joint letter supporting the medal but opposing its ranking. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich and Sen. Jim Inhofe R-OK said, “Although we are supportive of this new medal, we are concerned that it is given precedence above awards earned by service members for actions on the battlefield.”
Last Friday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel took a different position, saying “[the Distinguished Warfare Medal] in no way degrades or minimizes our nation’s other important awards or the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women who earn these prestigious recognitions. It recognizes a specific type of contribution that is vital to the defense of our nation.”
Now Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey have decided complete their review and make a decision within 30 days.