Hagel Orders Review of DoD's New Medal

NGAUS Washington Report

(March 12, 2013) Bowing to criticism, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a 30-day review of the order of precedence for the Pentagon’s new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which critics have ripped because the award for actions far from combat ranks above others that can be earned only in battle.

Lawmakers and veterans organizations have written letters and publicly denounced the medal for its rank ahead of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Hagel has asked Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to review the policy and report to the secretary in 30 days.

This is a change for Hagel, who was awarded two Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam, who had defended the medal’s rank in a letter to various critics. His letter said the new medal, which will go to drone pilots, cyber warfare troops and others indirectly involved in combat, “recognizes a specific type of contribution that is vital to the defense of our nation.”

According to a report in Stars and Stripes, he added, “It in no way degrades or minimizes our nation’s other important awards or the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women who earn these prestigious recognitions.”

Legislation in both the House and the Senate would change the rank of the new medal, which was announced last month by Hagel’s predecessor, Leon E. Panetta.