Pentagon Defends Precedence of New Medal

Pentagon officials justified the precedence of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which ranks above the Bronze Star Medal. “We are not diminishing at all the importance of the Bronze Star—that remains an important award for our combat troops,” explained Pentagon Press Secretary George Little in the Defense Department’s Feb. 19 release. DOD created the Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize the combat achievements of personnel who aren’t physically present on the battlefield, but whose actions have a direct effect on combat success. An example is a remotely piloted aircraft operator stationed far from the battlefield who controls an RPA in the combat zone that drops a bomb to take out a target. The new medal does not recognize valor, while Bronze Star awards may come with a Valor Device. That’s one reason DOD has received some pushback over the precedence of the new medal after announcing it on Feb. 13. “We expect this award to be granted pretty rarely, and that factored in to the decision,” said Little. Military leaders agreed that service members at rear locations are “doing incredible things, and we wanted the ability to recognize them,” added Juliet Beyler, DOD’ acting personnel management director. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)