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Hagel might reverse Panetta’s decision to rank drone medal above Bronze Star

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to revisit his predecessor’s decision to rank a medal awarded for successful drone strikes and cyber warfare above combat-oriented medals such as the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

“[I]n light of concerns about the medal’s place in the order of precedence, Secretary Hagel will work with the senior leadership to review the order of precedence and associated matters, and the secretary has asked that Chairman Dempsey lead this review and report back in 30 days,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

Panetta unveiled the Distinguished Warfare Medal last month. ‘‘I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought,’’ he said at the time. ‘‘And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.’’

The review is coming after top lawmakers asked Hagel to downgrade the medal from. “Although we are supportive of this new medal, we are concerned that it is given precedence above awards earned by service members for actions on the battlefield,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., wrote in a letter this week, per The Washington Post.

The medal is currently slated as a higher honor than the Bronze Star, but lower than the Silver Star. The Bronze Star is awarded for “heroic or meritorious achievement or service” in a combat zone. The Purple Heart, which ranks below the Bronze Star, goes to service-members who are wounded or killed.

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