Distinguished Warfare Medal canceled

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the proposed military decoration that honors drone pilots and cyberwarriors — the Distinguished Warfare Medal — has been cancelled and will be replaced by a distinguishing device that can be affixed to previously awarded medals.

American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz protested the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s proposed ranking, which placed it higher than the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Combat "V." Last month, Koutz said that placing the medal above those given for valor and courage under fire was "wholly inappropriate."

Hagel halted production of the medal on April 5, and directed Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to conduct a review of its ranking.

Hagel’s decision kept the evolving roles of military combat in proper perspective, Koutz said.

"Cyber and drone warfare have become part of the equation for 21st-century combat, and those who fight such battles with distinction certainly deserve to be recognized. But The American Legion still believes there’s a fundamental difference between those who fight remotely, or via computer, and those fighting against an enemy who is trying to kill them."

A Vietnam War veteran, Koutz served with Company C in the U.S. Army’s 169th Engineer Battalion and was honorably discharged in March 1971.

Read Hagel's statement here.