Hagel Cancels Medal for Drone Pilots, Cyberwarriors amid Public Outcry

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Byline: Kristina Wong, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to cancel production of a heroism medal for drone pilots and cyberwarriors, prompted by public uproar over its precedence over the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart combat medals.

Mr. Hagel, who ordered a review of the new medal, said Monday: While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition, it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose.

Instead of the issuing the Distinguished Warfare Medal, military leaders are encouraged to develop a special pin or device that would be attached to existing medals or ribbons, the Pentagon chief said. Such a device would be similar to the V device for valor that can be attached to the Bronze Star to denote an act of heroism.

I agree with the Joint Chiefs' findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal, Mr. Hagel said in a written statement.

A distinguishing device would recognize the impact of cyberwarriors and drone operators on combat operations but reserves our existing combat medals for those service members who incur the physical risk and hardship of combat, perform valorous acts, are wounded in combat, or as a result of combat give their last full measure for our nation, he said.

Senior military leaders have 90 days to finalize details and criteria for the new device.

Mr. Hagel's predecessor, Leon E. Panetta, introduced the medal in February to recognize the contributions of cyberwarriors and drone combatants who conduct their missions from stations outside of war zones. …