U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today praised the U.S. Department of Defense for reversing an earlier decision to rank a new medal for unmanned drone pilots ahead of combat medals like the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
"The Secretary's decision strikes a good balance between adapting to the realities of modern warfare, and acknowledging the unique nature of combat medals earned for serving bravely on our front lines," said McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose father served in World War II.
The U.S. Department of Defense had previously announced that the Distinguished Warfare Medal will recognize extraordinary achievement by unmanned aerial vehicle pilots and cyber warriors. McCaskill recently sponsored legislation to address the issue, and had previously joined a bipartisan coalition of Senators urging Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to reconsider the Defense Department's decision.
That legislation prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to order a review of the medal's rank. This week, Secretary Hagel announced that drone pilots and other cyber warriors will be recognized through the current medal system, rather than a separate medal.
"Based on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff...I have determined that such recognition is best accomplished through the creation of a distinguishing device that may be affixed to existing medals at various levels instead of a separate medal."
McCaskill has repeatedly backed legislation that would put in place criminal penalties for anyone making a false claim relating to military service or awards to secure a tangible benefit for themself.