Pentagon to review 'drone' medal



Washington: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Tuesday decided to review the criteria for presenting the newly created and so-called "drone award".

The medals could be awarded to drone operators but some legislators have raised concerns that the medal might, in effect, be a higher honour than medals given for noteworthy efforts made by soldiers who are physically present on the battlefield.

The medals could be awarded to drone operators but some legislators have raised concerns that the medal might, in effect, be a higher honour than medals given for noteworthy efforts made by soldiers who are physically present on the battlefield.

The medal was approved last month by former defense chief Leon Panetta during his last days in office to recognize the impact of new technologies and those who employ them on the battlefield.

Veterans groups and members of Congress protested the decision, however, saying that the medal could not compare with the Purple Heart or Bronze Star given for being wounded in combat or exhibiting valour on the field of battle, respectively.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said that production of the award had been halted so that Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may conduct a review.

"(I)n light of concerns about the medal's place within the order of precedence, the secretary (Hagel) will work with the senior leadership to review the order of precedence and associated matters," Little said. Dempsey is expected to present his report on the matter within 30 days.

Hagel is a Vietnam veteran who received two Purple Hearts in that conflict.

In creating the medal, Panetta had emphasized that "modern tools" such as drones and other technology have given new capabilities to the armed forces in confronting the enemy and changing the course of battle, even at a great distance.

IANS