Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta unveiled a new decoration that recognizes efforts of troops that effect combat even if they are outside a battle zone, Wednesday.
“This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare that we are engaged in, in the 21st century,” Panetta said in a Penatgon briefing Wednesday.
In the last ten years, the proliferation of unmanned vehicles and cyber warfare prompted officials to create an award to recognize service members who effect the battlefield from a distance.
“I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought. And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar,” Panetta said.
“For that reason, recognizing these technological advances, I’m pleased to announce that I have formally approved the establishment of a new distinguished warfare medal. The medal provides distinct department-wide recognition for the extraordinary achievements that directly impact on combat operations, but that do not involve acts of valor or physical risk that combat entails.”
The medal is causing some controversy. The Navy Times reported that the medal will reside in precedence above the Bronze Star with Valor Device, a combat decoration.
“It’s got me puzzled,” said Doug Sterner, curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor in the report.
“I understand the need to recognize the guys at the console who are doing some pretty important things. But to see it ranking above the Bronze Star [with] V?”
The award will be included in the next update of revision of the Manual of Military Decorations and Awards.