New Medal for High-Tech Warriors Causing a Stir

Earlier this month the Pentagon revealed its new citation for the 21st century, the Distinguished Warfare Medal. This award is intended for drone pilots, offensive cyberwar personnel, and others directly involved in combat operations, but not physically in the combat theater of operations.

Uproar from soldiers, veterans, and veterans groups came with the ranking of this new medal. Ranking just below the Distinguished Flying Cross, this new citation is positioned above citations involving soldiers in physical peril such as the Purple Heart or Bronze Star.

Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Military Order of the Purple Heart have spoken out against the ranking of this medal. John Hamiliton, head of the VFW summarized many people's feelings, "It is very important to properly recognize all who faithfully serve and excel, but this new medal — no matter how well intended — could quickly deteriorate into a morale issue. Medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear." The Military Order of the Purple Heart requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the new Secretary of Defense either reconsider the precedence of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, or find another way to honor those whose indirect actions contribute greatly to mission success without lessening the sacrifice of those who are put into harm's way.