From the Marine Corps Times:
Posted : Wednesday Feb 13, 2013 17:47:27 EST
The Pentagon is creating a new high-level military medal that will recognize drone pilots and, in a controversial twist, giving it added clout by placing it above some traditional combat valor medals in the military’s “order of precedence.”
The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations but who are not physically in theater and facing the physical risks that warfare historically entails.
The new medal will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross. It will have precedence over — and be worn on a uniform above — the Bronze Star with Valor device, a medal awarded to troops for specific heroic acts performed under fire in combat.
The new medal is a brass pendant, nearly two inches tall, with a laurel wreath that circles a globe. An eagle is in the center. The ribbon has blue, red and white stripes.
“This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
More at the link; hat tip to Wombat-socho!
I suppose that I can understand; the people in the Chair Force need medals, too! But the notion that a drone pilot, sitting hundreds or thousands of miles away from any hostile enemy action, would merit citation for his duty performance ranking above those who have served with distinction and valor in the face of enemy fire is more that silly, it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and appreciation by the civilian leadership at the Department of Defense of just what the military does for this country.
That drone pilots perform a very valuable service for this country is undeniable; striking over the heads of defenders to kill enemy leaders is a very useful and sensible thing to do, and it is the way our military should operate in situations where it can. I would much rather that we strike our enemies with as little risk to our own personnel as possible, and it is far more valuable to take out the enemy’s leadership than the foot soldiers, if it can be done. But to say that such good service is somehow more meritorious than that of the soldier or Marine staring Death in the face to defeat our enemies is just monumentally stupid. SPC Ashley Pullen laid down fire to suppress insurgents and then “exposed herself to heavy AIF fires in order to provide medical assistance to her critically injured comrades,” for which she was awarded the Bronze Star. Perhaps her actions did not take out as many al Qaeda leaders as those of a drone pilot, but I see her actions as far more militarily meritorious.