Petition to lower precedence of Distinguished Warfare Medal

| February 18, 2013

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.

Category: "Teh Stoopid"

Comments (26)

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  1. DaveO says:

    The best way to downgrade it is for the NCO Corps to heap all the scorn it can on this “award.” The officers will only abandon it when having it doesn’t provide advantage in promotions, pay, or assignments.

  2. Jumpmaster says:

    Jonn, you probably did more to earn your Bronze Star than did our generator mechanic in Desert Storm. That said, this new award is an insult to all who were awarded the Bronze Star, especially those with the “V” device. On the bright side, Panetta is out as SecDef and his very expensive weekly trips to spend weekends at his walnut farm in California are no more.

  3. SJ says:

    My only problem with signing is that I don’t want to create a account and get bullshit from Barry.

  4. FatCircles0311 says:

    Oh, you earned a Bronze Star in Iraq due to your own negligence regarding your military gear resulting in you never firing a shot to defend your position or the troops around you? Oh, you required a pitched battle diversion where Marines died in order to be rescue by SF?*

    *Jessica Lynch

    This latest medal is just an incredibly obvious mockery and marginalization of achievement within society as a whole.

  5. Tequila says:

    Wait. What? This isn’t a satire piece from the Duffel Blog? This is serious?? Who the fuck is in charge around here nowadays? Some kid whose biggest danger is running out of Cheetos or his Big Gulp running dry while he plays Medal of Honor III.

    I think you should be entitled to throat punch or nut kick anybody who proudly wears this medal and isn’t a poser.

  6. John Evans says:

    Thank you for mentioning and linking to my petition to have the medal lowered in the order of precedence. It seriously bothers me that those that place boots on the ground, would be potentially awarded a medal that would be viewed below that of a pilot sitting in the comfort of their “command center” drinking their coffee. While I served on the ground in Desert Storm, I did not receive a Bronze Star nor a Purple Heart…and I did not deserve one for what I did but I am doing this for those vets from WWII, Vietnam and Korea that truly spilled blood, sweat and tears on the battlefield for their Bronze Star and Purple Hearts.

    Please Sign and Share the petition. In regards to the account, it is not used for anything other thank validating your email address so that they can ensure that it is not a fraudulent signature…yeah I know, a surprise from this administration 🙂

  7. Eric says:

    Though they are reporting this with concern, they still got something wrong: (I know, shocker)

    “It is adorned with a “V” if it is earned in direct combat.”

    Totally not true, the V is for kicking ass in combat and being recognized as such.

    It is a shame when the SecDef’s biggest achievements are a medal with too-high precedence and flying home every weekend at 33K a trip while telling troops they are getting cut back, along with their budgets because “we can’t afford it”.

  8. 11BScottie says:

    I said it before on here, I give a fuck about medals unless they have a V device, and are Silver Star and above, those get my attention quicklike on someone.

    All this is is a medal for the guys who operate the drones, so they can say that they killed people too. Yeah, I did it from an office chair stateside, then went out for a big mac at mcdonalds after, but I did it too just the same! I just didn’t have return fire coming at my ass.

  9. Tman says:

    “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 should be of a higher precedence than a medal which requires the awardee to actually be present for the conduct of the war.”

    Just a small nitpick, but I think Jonn meant, “it should NOT be of a higher precedence than a medal which requires the awardee to actually be present for the conduct of the war.”

  10. kp32 says:

    Perhaps a badge or a warfare device would be more appropriate if they need something special. The Navy recently added Information Dominance as a warfare device.

  11. Gordon says:

    This award should be ranked, at best, next to the National Defense Medal. But I would submit that it should be classed the same as a qualification Badge for Rifle, handgun, M-60 MG, etc. Just because a person sitting there drinking a cup of hot coffee in an air conditioned room can play Atari well, DOES NOT mean they deserve nor GET a high award.

    Its just like the Officers in Nam getting their “token” bronze stars. Why do you think the grunts didn’t have a whole lot of respect for them The REMF Officers, strutting around like cocks of the walk, back in my day? (Don’t get me wrong, I knew some damned GOOD officers, but they weren’t the ones acting like hot shi*!)

  12. pete says:

    this is just another version of,, everybody gets a reward!
    from high school too this? we’re in big trouble fellow vets.

  13. Hondo says:

    I don’t see the need for the new “DWM” period. Existing noncombat decorations (DMSM/MSM) or dual-purpose decorations (LOM/Commendation/Achievement medals) are IMO fully apropos for recognition of noncombat service performed where there is no personal danger of getting killed. Simply award one of those based on just how much the individual’s act or service affected the overall mission.

    Combat decorations should be reserved for those serving in locations where there is a realistic chance of getting injured or killed due to enemy action. IMO those serving in safe locations like Kuwait, Qatar, Europe, or CONUS shouldn’t be getting them.

  14. SJ says:

    Wait for the Cyber Command folks to lobby for something like this also. After all, they battle geeks from all over the world everyday. It is so stressful.

  15. Reaperman says:

    On one hand I understand this. They’re flying, and are doing stuff that might get them a Distinguished Flying Cross–except that they’re not putting their life on the line. I can see the logic that put it right below happened. That doesn’t mean I agree with it. But it certainly shouldn’t be down next to gun quals, though (@11). They’re doing a lot of important work, not just visiting a range once.

  16. Hondo says:

    Reaperman: got no problem with cyber operators who actually deploy where they’re personally at risk of getting hurt/killed by enemy action getting a BSM, if their performance and contribution warrants. For those serving in safe locations (e.g., where there’s no real chance of getting hurt/killed by enemy action), simply give cyber operators operating the appropriate level of noncombat decoration commensurate with their contribution to the overall mission. Problem solved. No new decoration needed.

    For UAV operators, ditto. It would appear that either the Air Medal or the Aerial Achievement Medal could also be apropos, given a reasonable interpretation of the term “participating in aerial flight”. Seems to me that remotely piloting a UAV would qualify as “participating in” the flight of that craft. Again: problem solved; no new decoration needed.

  17. I do not agree with the SECDEF on this medal at all. The ARCOM, JSAM, can be used for this NON COMBAT medal. As a forward deployed Cold War Germany Defense veteran, many NATO alerts, Border patrol,Terrorist threats and bombmings against US forces in West Germany in the 1980.s, non of us got nothing,no Cold War Victory medal, NATO service medal noe the Germany Defense Service medal, why According to the DOD it would cost too much. If you gonna reconize people for thier action then the SECDEF needs to LOWER the rank of this medal at the minimum better yet not even creat nor award it as it overlaps other medals.

  18. The Germany Defense Veterans of America hereby OBJECTS to the creation and award of this medal. This new medal OVERLAPS other NON COMBAT medals that are in effect and degrades combat medals.

  19. BK says:

    I think putting it above any award that can have a “V” device attached is a bad thing.

    I have a friend who thrice deployed to Iraq. On his first deployment, as a PFC, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he destroyed three Iraqi tanks with Javelins personally — it’s in his award citation, which was put in as a Bronze Star. Since “PFCs don’t get Bronze Stars,” it was down-graded to an ARCOM with a V.

    Awards on the whole are as broken now as they ever were, when a PSG can get a Bronze Star for counting beans (not talking about you) on the FOB while a PFC does some real hooah bidness and gets an ARCOM. If his award were to come in behind a drone pilot, there is no justice in the universe (which I already know to be true, just sayin’).

  20. PintoNag says:

    Placing a medal for a drone pilot over a medal for valor in combat. As little as I know about these medals, that stinks to high heaven to me.

    Am I the only one who feels like I fell down the rabbit hole with Alice?

  21. ZeeRashan says:

    Can I get Medal of Honor for being Courtesy Patrol van driver who had to fend off drunken bastards on the weekends?

  22. Anominus says:

    @ 21 … NO!

  23. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:


  24. Rob says:

    @21, you did risk death from other drivers on the road, some of whom were likely driving under the influence. We should start a petition.

  25. RMCM, USCG, (Ret) says:

    The CG gives out a Special Operations Ribbon to significant numbers of personnel participating in a major Coast Guard operation of a special nature, not involving combat. To me, these drone operators are just shooters. They are not involved in combat. To place this above the Bronze Star w/V that my brother earned in Vietnam is disgusting, to say the least. Perhaps the DoD should come up with a SpecOp ribbon, with the same precedence as the CG ribbon, which ranks right above my Sea Service ribbon, Expert Rifle Medal, and Expert Pistol Medal.

  26. PWH says:

    While some “non-combat” operations – especially the Coast Guard’s have significant personal peril attached to them and deserve to have the ‘ranking’ of valor awards this medal certainty does not!

    I feel ALL non-valor awards, which includes ALL awards for true non-combat activities (including REMF duties well outside the danger area) should rank BELOW all Valor awards. I also dislike the awarding of non-valor bronze and silver stars for basically staff jobs or command positions where there is little to no chance of actual combat! The names of these should be changed so there is not confusion with valor awards. Officer ribbon bars (speaking as an officer spouse) already are overfilled with almost meaningless awards and more like this new medal just cheapen the sacrifice that those who have to suffer the trauma of real combat undergoes. As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman I felt I never did anything other than my duty and hence never felt I should have gotten special awards, some of which now seem to be standard for regular service. I had comrades, both Naval and Marine, who certainly deserved much more recognition than they received while service at the actual sharp end.