Distinguished Warfare Medal Eliminated

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday eliminated the Distinguished Warfare Medal, opting instead to create a new distinguishing device to affix to existing medals in order to recognize military personnel, such as remotely piloted aircraft and cyber operators, who have an extraordinary impact on combat operations while serving off the battlefield. “Utilizing a distinguishing device to recognize impacts on combat operations reserves our existing combat medals for those service members who incur the physical risk and hardship of combat, perform valorous acts, are wounded in combat, or as a result of combat give their last full measure for our nation,” reads Hagel’s April 15 memorandum explaining his decision. Hagel adopted the April 9 recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in concurrence with the service Secretaries, to forego the medal. His memo directs the Defense Department to develop within the next 90 days the award criteria and other details of the distinguishing device for his final approval. The Pentagon in February unveiled the DWM. The medal’s order of precedence—above the Bronze Star Medal—raised objections among some lawmakers and veterans’ organizations. Hagel then ordered a review of the DWM led by JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. (See also Hagel’s statement.)