Only two weeks into his role as the head of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the DoD to stop production on a medal that would have been awarded military drone pilots.
Sec. Hagel took control of the Pentagon from former-Sec. Leon Panetta just recently on Feb. 27, and has issued only few orders since then. On Tuesday this week, though, the Washington Post reported that the Defense Department would momentarily halt plans for a Distinguished Warfare Medal per the secretary’s request.
The award, initially reported by RT in 2012, was formally revealed days before Sec. Hagel entered office. It was approved by his predecessor, Sec. Panetta, and was expected to be offered in the coming months to servicemen who, while vital to the US military, don’t necessarily ever enter the battlefield.
When the Associated Press reported on the medal last month, they said sources claimed it “will be awarded to individuals for ‘extraordinary achievement’ related to a military operation.” Unlike other combat awards, though, the Distinguished Warfare Medal was expected to be something that could be obtained without ever leaving the control room of the drone command centers that are often thousands of miles away from the battlefield.
“The medal could go to service members who never set foot in a combat zone, but launch drone strikes or cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy,” the AP reported last month.
Also separating the Distinguished Warfare Medal from other awards was that this one ranked about both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, two of the military’s most respected honors. Sec. Hagel, 66, was the recipient of two Purple Hearts while serving in the Vietnam War.