The Department of Defense yesterday announced it was scrapping its plan to create a new medal to honor “cyberwarriors,” such as those who remotely pilot unmanned drones. The medal invited criticism and controversy when it was announced it would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
In a statement issued today, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) applauded the decision while clarifying his opposition to the medal.
Our problem has never been the creation of a new medal for cyber warriors and pilots of UAVs, rather the fact that initial proposals intended to rank this medal higher than the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart even though it would honor service away from the front lines.
While we should acknowledge the important role that our UAV pilots play on the modern-day battlefield and recognize their distinguished service, we must recognize the preeminence of commendations for those commit acts of bravery in combat and are killed or injured in service to our nation.
As an alternative, the Defense Department has said it will create “a special pin or device that would be attached to already existing medals or ribbons.”
The decision has won some respect for new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, but drone pilots still have quite a way to go.