Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has canceled the creation of a controversial new medal that would have honored drone pilots and cyber warriors, after veterans organizations and members of Congress expressed outrage that it would outrank some battlefield medals like the Purple Heart.
The Distinguished Warfare Medal was approved in February by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, intended to honor members of the military for achievements beyond the battlefield since Sept. 11, 2001. The backlash to the medal centered around the fact that it would have taken precedence over several traditional combat awards, which require that the recipient risk his or her life in order to receive them.
On March 12, Hagel said the Defense Department would be conducting a 30-day review of the medal.
In announcing the decision on Monday, Hagel said in a statement that the review confirmed the need to recognize these post-9/11 achievements and acknowledge the changing nature of warfare, but added that “misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose.” In response, there will be a “distinguishing device” for extraordinary achievements rather than a new medal. Read more