Pentagon calls off new medal for drone, cyber warriors
2013-04-16 0:00

By Shahzad | AllVoices

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday cancelled a new combat medal for US troops who launch drone strikes or cyber attacks after a torrent of criticism from veterans and lawmakers.

Hagel opted to scrap the new "Distinguished Warfare Medal" for a pin or device that could be added to existing medals to recognize service members operating unmanned aircraft or cyber weapons, Hagel said in a statement.

The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shakes the hand of a Petty Officer after presenting him with a Joint Service Achievement Medal at U.S. Pacific Command.

Hagel opted to scrap the new "Distinguished Warfare Medal" for a pin or device that could be added to existing medals to recognize service members operating unmanned aircraft or cyber weapons, Hagel said in a statement.

The now cancelled medal had provoked outrage among active duty and retired troops, who called it insulting due to its high ranking in the military’s hierarchy of traditional combat medals -- above the prestigious Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart.

Opponents had decried Panetta’s high placement of the medal, which was meant to be a nod to the changing nature of warfare and represented the most substantial shakeup in the hierarchy of military medals since World War Two.

Brian Jopek, whose 20-year-old son, Ryan, earned a Bronze Star when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2006, had branded Panetta’s decision a "slap in the face.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, which describes itself as America’s largest combat veterans’ organization, also strongly objected to medal’s ranking.

The new medal, announced in February by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, was met with harsh criticism from legislators and veterans groups. It also was met with derision from some in the ranks, where it was suggested the award could be a gold-plated X-Box controller, among other reactions.


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