Posted on 14 February 2013.
First Combat-Related Award Since 1944
While seated in safety thousands of miles away from the front-lines of war, someone can literally watch a video console, click a button, and boom: receive a
medal for their efforts.
Military drone operators, wielding the joysticks that operate those infamous drones killing “terrorists” all over the world, can now receive a “Distinguished Warfare” Medal for their efforts, as well as those individuals fighting in the cyberwar trenches.
This would be a first. The Distinguished Warfare Medal, a nearly two-inch-tall brass pendant below a ribbon with blue, red and white stripes, will be handed out to people judged to have racked up “extraordinary achievement” directly tied to a combat operation– but far removed from the actual battlefield, according to the Associated Press which first reported the news
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the creation of a brand new medal yesterday. It would be bestowed upon operators who control US drones in other countries of the world targeting and killing people, many of whom may be civilians as well as combatants.
“Our military reserves its highest decorations obviously for those who display gallantry and valor in actions where their lives are on the line, and we will continue to do so,” Panetta told a Pentagon news conference today. “But we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations.”
Panetta said operators of unmanned, robotic aircraft and cyberweapons “contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight.”
The medal reflects a new age of warfare emerging over the past decade featuring robotic weapons and digital combat.
The Defense Department gave this statement in regards to the new honor:
“The most immediate example is the work of an unmanned aerial vehicle operator who could be operating a system over Afghanistan while based at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The unmanned aerial vehicle would directly affect operations on the ground.
Another example might be that of a soldier at Maryland’s Fort Meade, who detects and thwarts a cyberattack on a Department of Defense computer system.”
This is the first new combat-related award since the 1944 creation of the Bronze Star. The new medal will be ranked higher than the Bronze Star, the fourth highest combat decoration, but lower than the Silver Star, officials said.
In taking this step, the Pentagon is explicitly recognizing the increasing importance of cyberwar and drone activities to the nation’s defense complex.
The U.S. Air Force is on record predicting that by 2023 one-third of its attack and fighter planes will
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Along with the new award, a new breed of Terminator machines are coming.
Technology is changing the world– and the war game landscape as we’d like to see it. For example, take these remote-controlled helicopters being used in combat zones to ferry heavy equipment and supplies.
This article is one of a continuing series about drones by the Humboldt Sentinel.