Distinguished Warfare Medal Debate

Recently, the Pentagon has eliminated the Distinguished Warfare Medal.  This medal was intended for those who have performed extraordinary achievements but aren’t involved with direct traditional combat.  Examples of these Soldiers would be UAV pilots, cyber operators, etc.  Upon its initial announcement, the Distinguished Warfare Medal as been under some intense debate and scrutiny.  After all, the award’s order of precedence was just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and slightly above the Bronze Star.   But, recently appointed Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has indicated that the aforementioned Soldiers would simply receive devices, which would be added to existing medals, for their achievements…

That being said…what are your thoughts? I would like to hear what our viewers out there think about this topic as a whole.  As warfare continues to change, more and more of the battle is won behind the scenes and off the battlefield.  As a Combat Arms Officer, however, I also have a strong conviction that despite all our technological advancements and the changing face of warfare, wars can only be won with boots on the ground.  Those Soldiers, in my opinion, are the only ones who deserve such distinguished awards.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I know that our jobs are supported by many and they deserve their credit…they do.  I just firmly believe that the gallantry and bravery that combat demands and takes from you as a human being sets you apart from these other Soldiers.  Sitting behind a computer screen thousands of miles a way and killing someone is night and day when compared to seeing the whites of a man’s eyes of whom you just killed.  UAV pilots do not face the same dangers either as they selectively kill the enemy.  They do so from the safety and comfort of a lazy-boy chair…  While their job is important, and they deserve their credit, please do not hold them to the same level as your would a man who has seen his fellow brother die in front of him as he, himself is dodging bullets and IEDs.

That’s just my two-sense!  PLEASE leave your comments and opinions on this topic.  I always love to hear other people’s perspective and I am curious what other opinions there are out there.  Thanks!

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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8 thoughts on “Distinguished Warfare Medal Debate”

  1. There is a fine line here on this subject of this medal, but you can’t deny that the guys with boots on the ground are the ones facing things head on.

    Everybody has a job to do in support of them, and deserves a medal for their bravery and sacrifice, but how do you distinguish between them and those facing the bullets and be fair.

    It is a tricky subject.

  2. I hate to split hairs, or maybe I like to, and that’s why I think it every medal depends upon your definition of the words used in the description. The descriptions of medals such as the Distinguished Warfare Medal often include words such as courage, valor, and heroics. If your definition says those words can only be applied in combat situations, then you are are debating the order of precedence in military medals.The only problem with that is that the order of precedent is determined by the Military, itself, and most descriptions on the charts explain that the order does not make one award more “honorable” than another. It just shows the order in which they should be displayed. If that’s the case, then placing a Distinguished Warfare medal next to, say, a Bronze Star, does not give either any more value than the other. The value is based on your personal opinion and should stay that way.

  3. I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, does remotely piloting a vehicle from hundreds or (more commonly) thousands of miles away in the A/C with absolutely no risk to the operator deserve to be included in the award criteria for medals for “traditional” pilots such as the Distinguished Flying Cross? To me that seems to cheapen those awards because the UAV operator isn’t going in harm’s way. On the other hand, does this job warrant its own award, for much the same reason? I don’t know that I have an issue with having a separate award so that these achievements are completely distinct from those of traditional pilots, but I definitely have an issue with the precedence that was originally proposed for it. If they’re going to have an award like this, it had better rank well below the awards normally given to those on the front lines or “outside the wire.”

  4. Amy Skalicky

    I agree, Justin, that every contribution to our country’s success in combat is significant and worthy of reward; however, it is my opinion that the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe are the one’s who deserve the medals. All supportive services impact a soldier’s ability to triumph in a combat situation, but all the support in the world is not actually fighting the fight. It comes down to our soldiers, their willingness to put themselves in danger, their weapons and their expertise. Many are dead or permanently injured, sacrifices that nobody behind the lines has to face. This is what deserves the honor and recognition.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      Amy, I agree with you 100%. I think that there is a difference between being actually in grave physical danger, and being behind a computer screen in another country. Just my opinion.

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