Pentagon creates new medal for cyber, drone warriors

Feb 14, 2013
Outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta takes his seat as he arrives for his final press conference in the Pentagon briefing room on February 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The Pentagon unveiled a new medal on Wednesday to honor "extraordinary" troops who launch cyber attacks or drone strikes from their consoles, even if they do not risk their lives in combat.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, announcing the new "Distinguished Warfare Medal," said it was time to recognize those who play a crucial role in with hi-tech weapons far from the frontline.

"Our military reserves its highest decorations obviously for those who display gallantry and valor in actions where their lives are on the line, and we will continue to do so," Panetta told a Pentagon news conference.

"But we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations."

He said operators of unmanned, robotic aircraft and "contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight."

The medal reflects a new age of warfare that emerged over the past decade featuring robotic weapons and digital combat.

Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and bombs have been used to kill insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the CIA to go after suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. Other robotic aircraft, including the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel and larger Global Hawks, are used to spy on adversaries from the sky without putting pilots in harm's way.

The military also views cyberspace as a new battlefield and has created a new command dedicated to digital warfare, recruiting and training new "cyber warriors."

The power of digital weapons was driven home by a that reportedly disrupted Iran's uranium facilities in 2009-2010, which the New York Times said was carried out by US and Israel .

The medal is designed as a brass pendant medal, nearly two inches tall, that will carry a laurel wreath encircling a globe with a Defense Department eagle at its center, attached to a red, white and blue striped ribbon.

The medal will only be given to troops for their role in operations that took place after the attacks of September 11, 2001 but, unlike other military medals, will not require that the soldier performed a courageous physical act that put his or her life in danger.

The new medal will be ranked higher than the Bronze Star, the fourth highest combat decoration, but lower than the Silver Star, officials said.

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User comments : 31

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Wolf358
3.2 / 5 (5) Feb 14, 2013
The phrase that comes to mind is "push-button killers". It's nice they're giving medals to these kids, so they can pretend to be real soldiers...
doctamike
4 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2013
I'm intrigued as to the performance metric employed for the award of these medals. Is it some weighted average of "enemy combatants" and innocent civilians killed?
88HUX88
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2013
the medal may only be viewed remotely
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2013
Ooooh. Shiny.. Gotta go out and kill more guys.

Seriously: Medals have got to be the most cynical way of rewarding great (and possibly life threatening) effort with the least possible reward.

"Here, have this piece of metal. You're an idiot for putting your life on the line/working your butt of for me. And I'm gonig to pretend that I 'honor' you for this. Keep on being my bum-boy/bullet-sponge and I'll give you more shiny pieces of metal. Deal?"
Birger
3 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2013
Since there has been A LOT of civilian casualities for these raids (which the DoD does not even acknowledge taking place) these medals are somewhat questionable.
http://www.thenat...t-asked#
Example of such a raid: "Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, a father of seven children and a Yemeni cleric who apparently *opposed* Al Qaeda and its allies in Yemen. While he was arguing, alongside his cousin, with several Al Qaeda members who were angry with him, he was blown to pieces in a drone strike carried out by the United States" Killing allies? Is there a special medal for this?
Aloken
3 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2013
So the military decided to start implementing achievements for remote operators, now all they need to do is hire gamers with OCD that care about collecting these things and they'll have a vicious unmanned force at their disposal.
Claudius
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 14, 2013
I suppose medals are being awarded to those who are the best at torturing civilians (oh, sorry, insurgents), too.

What a brave new world we live in, that rewards mass murderers and torturers.
Modernmystic
2 / 5 (8) Feb 14, 2013
The phrase that comes to mind is "push-button killers". It's nice they're giving medals to these kids, so they can pretend to be real soldiers...


Indeed, because it's so much more intelligent to be on the front lines and allow the enemy a chance to kill 19 year old American soldiers.

Would that make you feel better? A little more like John Wayne?
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2013
What a brave new world we live in, that rewards mass murderers and torturers.


Alternatively we can live in a world where we allow mass murderers to go unpunished because it flies in the face of our personal politics.

One is just about as bad as the other....
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Feb 14, 2013
What a brave new world we live in, that rewards mass murderers and torturers.

Has it, at any time in history, been any different?

Killing one makes you a murderer. Killing hundreds makes you a hero. Killing thousands makes you a 'great conqueror'.
Claudius
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 14, 2013
"...the Obama administration adopted a new practice in 2009 of automatically considering any military-age male killed in a drone strike as a "militant""

"it became clear to the Bureau that a number of specific tactics were being deployed. These included multiple attacks by drones on rescuers attempting to aid victims of previous strikes. There were also a number of credible reports of funerals and mourners being attacked by CIA drones."

In the past, armies met on a field of battle and civilian casualties were minimized.

Now, we *target* civilians. Indefensible, by any standard.
NotAsleep
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2013
While I won't debate the ethics of war or war methods, I take issue with people assuming drone pilots are "OCD gamers" or that they feel no responsibility. These pilots experience psychological trauma from killing someone much in the same way that fighter pilots or bombers do. A key difference is that people don't expect this "video game pilot" to feel remorse so the pilot's support network is a lot more limited.

This medal isn't a reward that's given after a particular number of kills, nor is it intended to be political justification for actions that the pilot or the country performed. The medal is recognition of three things: that this individual was directly involved in conflict, that this career field experiences war-related stress, and that the public (at least the military public) recognizes that these pilots aren't removed from these stressors.

Do some research before you think you understand the qualifications and background of drone pilots
Claudius
1.8 / 5 (10) Feb 14, 2013
career field experiences war-related stress, and that the public (at least the military public) recognizes that these pilots aren't removed from these stressors.



Imagine the stress felt by the innocent victims *targeted* by these heroes. Imagine the stress felt by rescue workers and those attending funerals who are targeted by these heroes. Or the stress of being a male of "military age" with the threat of assassination hanging over your head 24/7.

How can anyone defend this kind of behavior? War criminals have no defense.
NotAsleep
1 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2013
Claudius, I'm sure their supporters are giving them medals and honors, too. Their stress is real, as is the blood that soaks the land under the destroyed bodies of combatants on both sides of a war. Only the naive see the issue as black and white. Unfortunately, there are a preponderance of naive people in the world that refuse to accept the realities of an enormously complex world in which they, or anyone, don't possibly have all the information necessary to make the perfect decision. These people have to hide in the shadow of their insignifigance, hoping that they're never the one's called upon to make such an incredible decision as to whether or not a life should be taken or a government overthrown.

Considering the total amount of injustice being done in this world, I find it laughable that drone strikes would make a top ten list of "poor moral decisions".
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 14, 2013
career field experiences war-related stress, and that the public (at least the military public) recognizes that these pilots aren't removed from these stressors.



Imagine the stress felt by the innocent victims *targeted* by these heroes. Imagine the stress felt by rescue workers and those attending funerals who are targeted by these heroes. Or the stress of being a male of "military age" with the threat of assassination hanging over your head 24/7.

How can anyone defend this kind of behavior? War criminals have no defense.


So would you be railing against the bombing of Germany in WW II, or the Empire of Japan? Do you REALIZE how many more civilians were killed in that war as compared to this one?

It's the difference between using a sledgehammer and a needle...

Some people have a stupefying lack of perspective and proportion....
Claudius
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 14, 2013
Yes, I find the WWII practice of deliberately bombing civilians (Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) despicable. Nothing can justify it.

The U.S. is engaged in a series of wars of aggression (a war crime.) Is targeting civilians, rescue workers and other non-combatants (a war crime.) Is using torture as a matter of policy (a war crime.) And who cares whether these war criminals feel stress? This kind of thing probably explains the high suicide rate in the military.

The fascists didn't lose WWII, they just moved their base of operations to the U.S.

This is not an ideal world, but showering war criminals with honors is beyond despicable. We have completely lost our moral compass, gone astray.

If the tables were turned, and China was operating drones over the U.S. targeting civilians; if your own family was being murdered, would you feel the same?
kochevnik
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 14, 2013
USA is allowed to break from the British aristocracy on condition it declares war upon all nations without a central bank controlled by the Rothschilds. Yet now it is obsoleted. With drones, any oligarch can now order up a flying death machine and force his own political views upon his enemies. This is not tyranny, but the the democratization of murder and mayhem. All players are now equal, or equally dead. Death can now be ordered casually over the Internet and a free movie is included with the package. It's like ebay, except the penultimate bidder loses not only the auction but his family, property and life
frajo
3 / 5 (2) Feb 15, 2013
Proponents of torture, mass murder, killing of innocent people and other war crimes:
InterestedAmateur, lite, Modernmystic, NotAsleep, Ophelia, perrycomo. (Just for the record.)
Brutality meets stupidity meets cowardice.

Stupidity:
They don't realize they are lying in bed with all the tyrants and mass murders in history just because of their non-falsifiable "arguments".
Even the Nazis were convinced it was all "for the better of mankind".
But you won't be judged by your intentions, you are being judged by your innocent victims.
COCO
2 / 5 (8) Feb 15, 2013
if there is really a god these wimpy clowns will be hauled before the Hague with their psycho masters. Perhaps the medals will help pay for their defense.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2013
Proponents of torture, mass murder, killing of innocent people and other war crimes:
InterestedAmateur, lite, Modernmystic, NotAsleep, Ophelia, perrycomo. (Just for the record.)
Brutality meets stupidity meets cowardice.


Does that mean that you support terrorism? I'm not suggesting you do, but if I were applying the same standard you do then you'd be guilty.

Your powers of hypocrisy, equivocation and complete lack of introspection make for an interesting and skewed perspective on reality to say the least.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2013
if there is really a god these wimpy clowns will be hauled before the Hague with their psycho masters. Perhaps the medals will help pay for their defense.


Since there isn't a god I have no hope of everyone who's astounded and outraged that if you attack a country with the most powerful military force in the world you're going to get some response will get a clue about human nature. Unfortunately some of those deaths are going to be civilians. The aggressors in this case the bulk of their attack specifically targeted civilians.

But we don't care about THOSE civilians because they were fat, lazy, stupid Americans who deserved it???
COCO
1 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2013
Who attacked who troll Modernmystic?- methinks your meds may be wrong. What are you talking about?
Claudius
2.3 / 5 (9) Feb 15, 2013
Does that mean that you support terrorism?...Unfortunately some of those deaths are going to be civilians.


You must be confused. We are not talking about terrorists. We are not talking about collateral damage. We are talking about targeting non-combatant civilians, rescue workers, mourners at funerals, any male of military age, (whether a terrorist or not.)

Currently, the definition of a militant is anyone killed in a drone strike. That's quite a broad brush to paint with. Do you really think infants are terrorists? Women and children? Non-combatant males?

I think there is a blind spot in your vision, that allows you to justify mass murder.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2013
We are talking about targeting non-combatant civilians, rescue workers, mourners at funerals, any male of military age, (whether a terrorist or not.)


Bring your proof to the authorities, otherwise you're just another crank troll on the internet with an axe to grind with American foreign policy. Seriously.

To put it simply I don't believe a word your saying....
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2013
Who attacked who troll Modernmystic?- methinks your meds may be wrong. What are you talking about?


What are you talking about? Have you been on a desert island the past eleven years?
COCO
1 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2013
oh the false flag - sorry mod man - did not connect the dots - now I see the NIST MYTH remains your bible - well time to pray to your gods now and leave the thinking to the adults - Peace and Love
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (5) Feb 15, 2013
oh the false flag - sorry mod man - did not connect the dots - now I see the NIST MYTH remains your bible - well time to pray to your gods now and leave the thinking to the adults - Peace and Love


Oh the crackpot conspiracy theorist. I suspected as much. Good luck peace and love to you too my man :) No sarcasm intended either.
Claudius
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2013
To put it simply I don't believe a word your saying....


Well, there is ignorance, and then there is willful ignorance. Just do some research.

"But attacking rescuers (and arguably worse, bombing funerals of America's drone victims) is now a tactic routinely used by the US in Pakistan... at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims."
"On [4 June], US drones attacked rescuers in Waziristan in western Pakistan minutes after an initial strike, killing 16 people in total according to the BBC. On 28 May, drones were also reported to have returned to the attack in Khassokhel near Mir Ali." Moreover, "between May 2009 and June 2011, at least 15 attacks on rescuers were reported by credible news media, including the New York Times, CNN, ABC News and Al Jazeera."

"US drone strikes target rescuers in Pakistan – and the west stays silent" http://www.guardi...pakistan
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (6) Feb 15, 2013
Well, there is ignorance, and then there is willful ignorance. Just do some research.


Let's just say I agree for the sake of argument. Does this mean that ALL people doing drone strikes are war criminals? Are these accidents? Are they willful? If they are why haven't they been brought up on charges. Plenty of others have for similar abuses.

Credulity still being stretched thin here...
Claudius
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2013
"Detailed information from the families of those killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and from local sources on strikes that have targeted mourners and rescue workers provides credible new evidence that the majority of the deaths in the drone war in Pakistan have been civilian noncombatants - not "militants," as the Obama administration has claimed."

"The sharply revised picture of drone casualties conveyed by the two new primary sources is further bolstered by the recent revelation that the Obama administration adopted a new practice in 2009 of automatically considering any military-age male killed in a drone strike as a "militant" unless intelligence proves otherwise."

"...detailed data from the two unrelated sources covering a total 24 drone strikes from 2008 through 2011 show that civilian casualties accounted for 74 percent of the death toll"

New Evidence Shows: US Cover-Up of Murdered Civilians
http://www.inform...2211.htm
Claudius
2.1 / 5 (7) Feb 15, 2013
"Obama has adopted the "double tap" tactic by using second drone attacks to kill the first responders to the first drone attacks. Funerals for the victims of the first drone attack have also been the target of second drone attacks. These second attacks have caused the deaths of between 282 and 535 civilians, and at least 60 children."

The Obama "Double Tap" http://jonathantu...ble-tap/