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Pentagon to review all military medals

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  • Pentagon to review all military medals

    Pentagon to review all military medals - News - Stripes

    WASHINGTON — With the politically dicey issue of how to recognize service by drone pilots and cyber warriors still awaiting an answer, the Pentagon announced Tuesday a broad-ranging review to settle not only that question, but examine the full range of medals and awards.

    Officials said the review, ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, would likely kick off within a month or so and be complete by late 2014 or early 2015.

    Beyond determining how new warfare technologies would fit into the medal picture, the parameters of the review are still being worked out, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.

    “As the wars are ending … rather than looking piecemeal at any specific one, he wants to do a comprehensive review of them all,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

    Hagel’s own soldiering background — he was awarded two Purple Hearts in Vietnam — drives his desire to make sure the system for awarding medals and decorations is functioning as it should, Kirby told Foreign Policy, which first reported the review.“Having seen combat himself, Secretary Hagel fully understands and respects the traditions that come with awards and decorations,” he said. “This is a process that will take time and care, but he believes it’s important it’s done right.”

    Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the Distinguished Warfare Medal for drone pilots and cyber operators last February, igniting strong criticism from veterans, politicians and others who objected to it being ranked above the Purple Heart and other decorations earned in direct combat. Some even joked the physical award should be a gold-plated Xbox controller.

    Hagel canceled the medal in April, soon after he took office, saying it would be replaced by a new device to affix to existing medals. But, he said, “I agree with my predecessor Leon Panetta that such recognition is justly warranted for these men and women.”

    Hagel ordered the award criteria and design be delivered within 90 days, but more than nine months later, no design has been made public.

    A spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who introduced legislation last year to rank the proposed medal below the Purple Heart, said the congressman strongly supports Hagel’s review. Hunter, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, thinks combat veterans of those wars have yet to receive proper recognition for many of their heroic actions.

    “You have all these valor awards that have been downgraded over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s deputy chief of staff. “There seemed to be a deliberate effort to downplay these acts of valor, and meanwhile, there was the push to highlight drone operations.”

    Servicemembers who make a difference on the battlefield from remote locations deserve recognition, said Joe Davis, public affairs director for the VFW Washington office. But he said Hagel’s review should affirm that troops risking life and limb have earned the greatest distinction.

    “We are all for proper recognition,” Davis said. “And we believe in protecting the rank order of those medals that can only be earned in a combat zone, and keeping them at their higher precedence.”

    I am for liberal awards policy...for minor awards. Decorations for valor, however, need to be properly vetted and awarded quickly. I know the US has more awards than most countries but it is what it is.

    I hope the SECDEFs review allows some ARCOMs w V to be upgraded....and maybe some Bronze Stars to be downgraded to ARCOMs.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  • #2
    We have VERY few medals in the IDF. Ehud Barak, our most decorated soldier, has a total of 5 IDF medals abd the Legion of Merit (Commander), and that for 46 years of service, including four wars and one Intifada. He received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service as a civilian, so that doesn't count. That's it.

    The only pins I ever wore on my uniform were the tanker's pin (earned after finishing basic and advanced training), and the 2006 Lebanon War pin worn by all IDF soldiers that served in the IDF throughout the duration of the war, whether they fought or not. As someone who did fight, I have my particular issues with that, but what are you gonna do?

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    Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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    • #3
      Medal recipients for valor, even if they did not deserve them, received them through no fault of their own.

      And having a medal downgraded would do nothing but embarrass or even hurt the recipient.

      So by all means, review them all and if someone deserving a higher medal was overlooked, and received a lesser medal, rectify the situation and be more thorough with the process from now on but downgrading a medal serves no useful purpose.


      • #4
        Interesting as I just ran through the section in Gate's book talking about this. In this section he is trying to get more drones over to the war zone but the Air Force is dragging their feet. On top of that the Air Force wanted pilots to man the drone console out of Creeh. Brass let it known that any pilot taking a position there was on a dead end as far as promotion and any medals. Needless to say Gates was not happy with the Air Force.


        • #5
          Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
          Brass let it known that any pilot taking a position there was on a dead end as far as promotion and any medals. Needless to say Gates was not happy with the Air Force.

          no glory in flying a console ...
          .... that's a video game

          not a surprising attitude
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          • #6
            The Marine Corps, and to a somewhat lesser extent, the Navy, have a basic rule about "reading chests." If one sees something like a Silver Star, but there is no Purple Heart accompanying it, ignore. That seems a good rule of thumb, especially when dealing with the Air Force. I had an Air Force Captain working for me (a Navy Captain at the time) on the Joint Staff who had not one, but two Meritorious Service Medals. In the Navy, that's considered something you MIGHT receive as a Commander, maybe a Lieutenant Commander at the end of a demanding XO tour, but as a Lieutenant? Not now, not ever, and yet the Air Force hands them out the same way we would a Navy Achievement Medal. So yeah, I think some of this stuff needs to be reined in before these decorations lose all meaning.