U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) today sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressing his concern and asking why the Pentagon has reportedly decided to rank a new medal for drone operators and others not in direct ground combat above some long-standing combat valor medals.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, cyber war experts and personnel involved in combat operations who are neither physically present nor in a war zone facing risks of traditional combat service participants. According to recent news articles, in the military's "order of precedence" of various medals, the Distinguished Warfare Medal is slated to be ranked above some traditional combat valor medals such as the Bronze Star with valor device.
Sen. Toomey's letter is below:
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Panetta:
I write to express my concern regarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal.
While fully supporting appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am concerned about the new medal's possible ranking in DOD's order of precedence. It has come to my attention that the new medal may rank above some traditional combat valor medals, such as the Bronze Star Medal with valor device.
I respectfully request your answers to the following questions:
1. Where does DOD plan to rank the Distinguished Warfare Medal in the order of precedence, and what is the rationale?
2. To what extent were members of the veterans community, particularly those with combat service, consulted on the planned order of precedence?
Thank you for your service and attention to my request.