14th February 2013
Air Force pilots and sensor operators who fly what the military calls remotely piloted aircraft–drones, to the rest of us — are not eligible for the most prestigious awards for valor. Because they fly the planes from 3,000 miles away, their lives are not on the line.
But outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that he was establishing a new award to recognize the contributions of drone pilots, cyber warriors and others who influence the battlefield from afar.
The new Distinguished Warfare Medal will rank below the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Defense Department said it can be awarded for actions in air, land, sea, space or cyberspace but not for actions that involve life-threatening “acts of valor.”
Needless to say, the military already has plenty of awards for desk-jockeys, including six (6) different Distinguished Service Medals (all of which rank higher than the Silver Star), plus the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. This is just another gong for people who don’t actually risk anything other than eyestrain and maybe carpal tunnel.