Medal of Dishonor?

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Department of Defense

So there has been a fair amount of blowback from U.S. troops and veterans on the Pentagon‘s announcement last week of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, created to recognize the battlefield contributions of troops who don’t risk their lives in battle – cyber-warriors and drone-drivers are the most-often-cited categories of those likely to be so heralded.

The consensus seems to be that while such technicians warrant recognition, it shouldn’t rank above the Bronze Star with V-device – for valor – as is now planned. While Bronze Stars are fairly common, those with V devices – for combat gallantry – are much more rare. Only one in 40 Bronze Stars are awarded with a V-device, for those who performed well under fire at great personal risk.

“Soldiers right now are going on patrol every day hoping to not step on an IED or be engaged by sniper fire after 9 or 12 months and will leave with an AAM [Army Achievement Medal] or ARCOM [Army Commendation Medal] or heavens forbid a Purple Heart,” one posted at the Army Times website. “Meanwhile a Soldier can sit behind a video screen move a joystick, push some buttons and then go home, go out for a steak dinner, sleep in their own bed, and kiss their spouse and kids goodnight and have the potential to get an award that is higher, this is ridiculous.”



Bronze Star with V-device

Critics have set up a petition on the White House website, asking the new medal not rank above a Bronze Star with V-device. “Under no circumstance should a medal that is designed to honor a pilot, that is controlling a drone via remote control, thousands of miles away from the theater of operation, rank above a medal that involves a soldier being in the line of fire on the ground,” the petition reads. “This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned.”

But the Pentagon is sticking to its joystick.

“This is for direct impacts,” Juliet Beyler, the acting director of officer and enlisted personnel management at the Pentagon, told Jim Garamone of the Pentagon’s American Forces News Service. “There are other meritorious awards that recognize service over a period of time — this [award] is intended to recognize specific impacts on the battlefield.” She likened it to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which isn’t awarded for a career or combat tour, but for a specific event.

Peter W. Singer, a robowar scholar, hailed the Pentagon’s action in a column in Sunday’s Washington Post:

The Distinguished Warfare Medal perfectly encapsulates how war, though changing, in many ways remains the same. Just as it was 5,000 years ago, war today is a story both tragic and glorious, an arena where terrible things take place but individuals distinguish themselves through extraordinary acts. New technology is rewriting major parts of that story, however — the who, the how, the where and even the why of those terrible things and extraordinary acts. We can decry it, we can mock it, or we can simply recognize that this is the reality of our strange new world of robotic planes, computerized weapons and medals that aren’t for valor in combat.

All well and good, but the betting here at Battleland is that the DWM’s order of precedence will end up being taken down a peg so that it doesn’t eclipse the Bronze Star with V-device.

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Some years back, as I recall, Senator Dole had the order of precedence of decorations changed to move the Purple Heart from behind all awards for valor and service to just behind the the Bronze Star (that award being available to soldiers in a combat zone who had not heard a shot fired and/or for valor). Made sense. I agreed with that and had to move mine. The Purple Heart means that you were somewhere the enemy could and did tag you -- or kill you. This new award is trickier. The navy/Marines awards Bronze Stars with V (and Legions of Merit with V -- or used to) just for service in a war zone. The army (I am not sure about the air force) has two classifications: Bronze star with V for valorous action and Bronze Star without V for meritorious service in a war zone. This new decoration is clearly for meritorious service not in a war zone. Logically, it should rank behind all Bronze Stars. Where is Bob Dole? It certainly should not rank the Purple Heart. 


Oh hell no ... my husband would spin in his grave if this goes through as is.

Remember that valor awards also impact the decision on burial in Arlington, for enlisted / retired soldiers.  I can see a lot of unhappy combat veterans having to deal with this insult.

He understood the issues for this new kind of warfare and the skills required for these operators, but no way does it equate to being under fire and fighting back, covering your buddies and your vehicles or aircraft.  Even if these operators claim to have PTSD from their actions, there is no way that they have undergone the physical experiences or gotten the physical wounds/diseases that come from field combat.

Hell no ... order of precedence better sort this out.


Speaking of the Bronze Star with "V" device, awarded for valor or extreme courage, General Petraeus received one as a major general -- his only valor medal award in his ten rows.  I believe it was for being somewhere in the general vicinity of an incoming mortar round.  Just sayin'.


While we're revamping the order of precedence, let's place the BS (V) -- properly awarded -- above the Bronze Star for merit.  I once received the latter simply for doing my job (as an 0-3).


Just give the Office Puppies an ARCOM and let it go at that! It's ludicrous enough to give a Bronze Star for "meritorious" service to an OP, but, to create a medal especially for people who don't even go outside the perimeter is an insult to the troops who get shot at. There are too many redundant awards now, we don't need another one.


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