At the risk of you guys making me feel worse for my Bronze Star Medal which I know I earned merely for being a SFC in Iraq, I’ll mention that there’s a petition at the White House website for lowering the precedence of the Distinguished Warfare Medal – that medal that Leon Panetta announced last week for drone pilots who positively impact the war against terror without actually being in the war. The petition says;
The Pentagon is introducing a new medal to recognized the service of pilots of unmanned drones during combat operations. This medal will be placed in precedence order just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and just above a Bronze Star Medal. Bronze Stars are commonly awarded with a Valor device in recognition of a soldier’s service in the heat of combat while on the ground in the theater of operation. 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. This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned.
There’s also a petition to stop the creation of the medal which seems to be less popular.
While I’ll agree that there probably needs to be a medal to recognize drone pilots for their contribution to the war – which is arguably significant – it shouldn’t be of a higher precedence than a medal which requires the awardee to actually be present for the conduct of the war. The only time drone pilots face anyone with a gun is when they drive through the front gate and there’s a guard there to check their ID. So, you know, I’m not having a medal-envy here, just making a common sense observation.
The Washington Times reports that I’m not the only one with that opinion;
It is not the award itself but its placement above, in order of prestige, the Bronze Star, that baffles and rankles some. The Bronze Star is awarded for extraordinary service to combatants in an actual war zone. It is adorned with a “V” if it is earned in direct combat.
The military prides itself on the authenticity of medals, which become a sort of chest-mounted resume that quickly informs colleagues of one’s assignments, performance and accomplishments.
An Army colonel who fought in Afghanistan and who admires Mr. Panetta told The Washington Times that he was taken aback by the “sudden” announcement.
“It has been surreal to hear the response in the corridors of the Pentagon,” the officer said. “Everyone was floored by the sudden announcement. Many are still convinced it is a joke from The Onion [an online satire website] that duped people.”
Or, The Duffel Blog, even. But, see, that’s what you get when you put a politician directly in charge of soldiers. Panetta was in the position as Secretary of Defense to be a hatchetman for the White House, not as someone who would take care of the troops – so you get bonehead decisions like this.