WASHINGTON, D.C. — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has eliminated the Distinguished Warfare Medal, DOD officials announced.
Instead, the military will recognize service members who directly affect combat operations without being present, through distinguishing devices that will be affixed to already existing awards.
Soon after being sworn in as defense secretary Feb. 27, 2013, Hagel asked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead a review of the medal.
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women,” Hagel said in a written release.
“I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal,” Hagel said in the release.
Hagel added, “The servicemen and women who operate and support our remotely piloted aircraft, operate in cyber and others are critical to our military’s mission of safeguarding the nation.”
The distinguishing devices will serve to recognize these service members’ achievements, he said.
The undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness will develop the award criteria in close coordination with the services and the Joint Staff, officials said.
The Defense Department announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal Feb. 13, 2013.
“I’ve always felt, having seen the great work that they do, day-in and day-out, that those who performed in an outstanding manner should be recognized,” then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said during a news conference announcing the medal.
“Unfortunately,” Panetta added, “medals that they otherwise might be eligible for simply did not recognize that kind of contribution.”
Members of veterans’ service organizations and others objected to the Distinguished Warfare Medal, officials said. The medal’s order of precedence was to be just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and just above the Bronze Star. Some commentators objected that it would rank higher than the Purple Heart — awarded to those wounded or killed in action.
“When I came into office, concerns were raised to me about the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s order of precedence by veterans’ organizations, members of Congress and other stakeholders whose views are valued by this department’s leadership,” Hagel said.
The distinguishing devices can be affixed to awards at different levels, so, once written, the criteria for the awards must reflect that, officials said. For example, the criteria for affixing a device to an Army Commendation Medal would be different from those for a Meritorious Service Medal — a higher award.