In Drones We Trust
President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s ingratiatory relationship is off to tenuous start.
Prior to his departure from the Department of Defense, former Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, announced the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal – a medal awarded to drone operators and cyber warfighters whose actions do not include valor in military operations.
When it was discovered that the award honoring drone operators and cyber warfighters ranked above those who were wounded or killed (Purple Heart) and those who committed acts of heroism, acts of merit or meritorious service (Bronze Star) production ceased, temporarily.
Lawmakers and veterans groups protested. In a letter to the Defense Secretary, Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) and 48 Congressional members of both parties resolutely stated, “We believe that medals earned in combat, or in dangerous conditions, should maintain their precedence above non-combat, placing the Distinguished Warfare Medal above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart diminishes the significance of awards earned by risking one’s life in direct combat or through acts of heroism.”
Initially Hagel choose not to take action on the issue. “I have discussed at length the reasoning and process leading up to establishing the DWM with the [service secretaries and chiefs] and accept their judgment that the award is at the appropriate level,” he said. Following political backlash and media scrutiny, the Defense Secretary lamented and is conducting a review of the medal’s precedence.
Much like the battle over sequestration cuts, President Obama has the power to overrule the decision. He has yet to weigh in on the matter let alone exert his executive power to direct Hagel to alter the medal’s precedence over the Purple Heart or Bronze Star.
This is the same president who is a proponent of NATO’s Courageous Restraint Medal. A medal awarded for not using lethal force during combat in the overriding interest of minimizing civilian casualties.
This proposes to be quite a dilemma for the President. He now has to choose between the more disreputable of the two, the Distinguished Warfare Medal or the Courageous Restraint Medal, when awarding a weakened US military.
The President and his administration govern by the credo that you never let a serious crisis go to waste and you never miss an opportunity to demoralize the US military.
By incentivizing behavior that he wants actualized, placing a higher honor on those who desist in combat and rewarding remote cyber warfighters and drone operators ahead of men and women who shed their blood for country, President Obama is fundamentally changing the mission of the military from protecting US citizens and their interests to that of remote police force with boots on the ground becoming the community organized pawns in his global humanitarian relief campaign.