Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The article "Mettle merits medals" (Page 1, Jan. 14) addresses an important subject. He cites a recent meeting of senior military leaders, but this discussion has been ongoing for at least a decade. He quotes senior defense sources as saying the debate "pitted the Army, Navy and Marine Corps against the Air Force." That suggests more parochialism than really exists, but there are clearly different points of view.
Modern warfare is no longer just about "boots on the ground." It is about creating desired effects. Our Air Force is a global force in a global war creating global effects at a time and place of our choosing. While the Army and Marine Corps, and to a lesser extent the Navy, focus on a more discreet area of operations, the Air Force can and does fight from both close-up and from afar. America's Air Force offers range, payload and lethality to combatant commanders, and a whole range of both lethal and nonlethal sovereign options to the nation's leaders.
It follows that the ability to create the desired effects from near or far changes the calculus of determining the contributions and appropriate recognition for Airmen. Clearly, combat that puts America's men and women in uniform at physical risk must be appropriately awarded, and those awards that recognize physical valor must not be devalued by award to individuals whose service does not incur such risks or require such valor. However, when an Airman can deliver a crushing blow, kinetic or otherwise, to enemies of the United States from continents away and change the course of the conflict, the contribution of that act to the success of an operation must also be recognized. …