The United States Military has halted production of its Distinguished Warfare Medal after questions about the medal’s ranking have continued to intensify. The medal, approved last month by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, would be awarded to members of the military for extraordinary achievements in battle since September 11, 2001.
The medal can be awarded to military members for accomplishments in any geographic region, meaning that warfare contributions such as drone operations and cyber attacks can be recognized. However, the medal outranks traditional combat medals such as the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart in order of precedence.
This ranking has caused outrage amongst veteran groups and lawmakers, who claim that remote warfare accomplishments should not be recognized as superior to those made on the front lines of battle.
“Secretary Chuck Hagel has issued a review of the order of precedence of the medal,” an anonymous Defense official said. "So [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey] is going to lead the working group and report to the Secretary of Defense in 30 days on whether it's going to be moved or left where it is."
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Earlier this month, members of the House of Representatives introduced legislation that would lower the medals precedence.
Defense Secretary Hagel has defended the medal’s ranking, saying "technological advancements have, in some cases dramatically changed how we conduct and support combat and other military operations. Accordingly the (Distinguished Warfare Medal) award criteria intentionally does not include a geographic limitation on the award, as it is intended for use as a means to recognize all service members who meet the criteria, regardless of the domain used or the member's physical location."
The review will be announced at a Pentagon news conference later today. It will be conducted by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and should take approximately 30 days.
According to Politico, if the medal’s ranking is changed, it would likely be renamed and new medals would be manufactured.
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No military member has received the Distinguished Warfare Medal yet, and it will not be awarded while the review is being conducted.