Hagel Repeals Drone Service Medal
Apr 15, 2013
by Brendan McGarry
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has repealed a medal created just two months ago to recognize the achievements of drone pilots and cyber specialists, ordering that a separate “distinguishing device” be used instead.
Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Feb. 13 announced the Distinguished Warfare Medal for pilots of unmanned aircraft and cybersecurity operators who had “an extraordinary impact on combat operations” even though they did not serve on the battlefield.
Veterans groups complained that the medal would unfairly be ranked above the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and the Purple Heart, two medals designed to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of troops who served in combat.
Hagel halted the production of the medal on March 12 and ordered a review of the medal after initially supporting the creation of it. A review led by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and service secretaries recommended the creation of a distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals. The same group had supported the creation of the medal when Panetta first announced it.
“I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal,” Hagel said in a statement released Monday.