Distinguished Warfare Medal

Distinguished Warfare Medal

Distinguished_Warfare_MedalThe Distinguished Warfare Medal is a United States military decoration announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on February 13, 2013. It is the first American combat-related award to be created since the Bronze Star Medal in 1944. The new blue, red and white-ribboned medal will be awarded to individuals for “extraordinary achievement” related to a military operation occurring after September 11, 2001. It is intended to recognize military achievement in cyberwarfare or combat drone operations for actions that do not include valor in combat.


Awarded in the name of the Secretary of Defense, the Distinguished Warfare Medal may be awarded for extraordinary achievement to members of the United States Armed Forces. This achievement must have taken place after 11 September 2001, and may not involve acts of valor. Qualifying achievement must have a direct impact, through any domain, on combat or other military operations. These operations must occur under one of the following circumstances:

•  Engaged in military operations against enemies of the United States.

•  Engaged in operations in conflict against an opposing foreign force.

•  While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in operations with an opposing armed force where the United States is not a belligerent party.

Direct impact of an operation means the “hands-on” employment of weapons systems, including those controlled remotely, or other activities through any domain that had a direct impact on an engagement or operation. When making reference to “through any domain” in the award criteria, this means operations may take place in air, sea, land, and cyberspace.

The achievement must have been of such an outstanding or exceptional nature so as to set the individual apart from their peers who are serving in similar duties or situations. The medal may only be awarded for single exemplary acts and cannot be awarded for sustained operational service. The Distinguished Warfare Medal may be awarded posthumously.


There was a time in our nation’s military history when a service member actually had to earn their medals. Those days are quickly fading as America transitions into the “everybody gets a medal” culture. The latest military honor program degrades those who served before us and those who actually earned their awards and decorations.

According to the Marine Corps Times, the Defense Department has come up with a new medal known as the Distinguished Warfare Medal. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said, “This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century.” There is an issue about this award however causing uproar among many combat veterans.

Should an award be given to those who never face the enemy in physical confrontation actually be positioned just below the Distinguished Flying Cross?

The Defense Warfare Medal will soon become the fourth  highest combat decoration in order of precedence pushing the Bronze Star down a notch to the fifth highest combat decoration. Recognized as the third highest award stands the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Should an award be given to those who never face the enemy in physical confrontation actually be positioned just below the Distinguished Flying Cross? Many veterans believe not.

In today’s military environment, medals are often handed out like candy. This doesn’t mean some recipients don’t deserve such awards however it does mean that many do not. Take for example the Bronze Star. It has turned into nothing more than a Valentine’s box of chocolates for the majority receiving such an honor today.

Executive Order 9419 signed on February 4th, 1944, states the Bronze Star “is awarded to a person in any branch of the military service who, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States on or after December 7, 1941, shall have distinguished himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.”

Since when did heroic or meritorious achievement translate into “senior non-commissioned officers or junior commissioned officers” will receive such award by merely deploying overseas so long as they stay out of trouble and keep their troops in line?

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