DOD rethinks medal for cyber warriors
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Mar 13, 2013
An artist's rendering of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal which encompasses cyber warfare, among other pursuits. (DOD image)
Concerns that a medal honoring drone pilots and cyberwarriors is ranked too highly have reached the ears of new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The Defense Department announced on March 12 that it is suspending production of the new Distinguished Warfare medal pending a 30 day review to be headed by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Veterans groups and others complained that the new honor was too lofty for those not directly in harm’s way. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and ranking member Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said as much in a March 11 letter asking Hagel to rethink the standing of the Distinguished Warfare Medal. They wrote that placing the new medal above the Bronze Star could have an "adverse impact to morale."
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the Distinguished Warfare Medal in February to honor "extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor, directly impacting combat operations or other military operations," irrespective of the physical location of service member. The medal ranked just below the Distinguished Flying Cross, and above such battlefield decorations as the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
"Secretary Hagel has long had a history with the veterans service organizations," said Pentagon press secretary George Little in a March 12 briefing. "He's been a member of one. He headed the USO. He's heard their concerns. He's heard the concerns of others. And he believes that it's prudent to take into account those concerns and conduct this review."
Adam Mazmanian is FCW's senior staff writer, and covers Congress, health IT and governmentwide IT policy. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.