Friday, February 15, 2013
It goes without saying to any combat veteran that the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, announced on Wednesday, is a travesty of an award. It recognizes combat-related achievement by those, such as UAV 'pilots' (in reality, controllers) who are not directly and personally involved in combat - a logical non sequitur if ever I heard one! It even ranks above some combat awards, which is a slap in the face to those who've paid in blood for their valor awards - a fact not lost on US veterans.
There are already plenty of awards recognizing technical skills, leadership or achievement that could be conferred on such persons. I suppose the problem to those of a politically correct bent is that the latter awards aren't specifically combat-oriented. There'd be nothing to distinguish a UAV pilot's Meritorious Service Medal for dropping bombs on the Taliban from one awarded to a paper-pusher for administrative achievement. Can't have that, you know . . . I mean, we've got to somehow tell the public that Johnny won this one for dropping a bomb, even though he was sitting ten thousand miles away from the action in an air-conditioned trailer!
For the life of me, I can't see how the administrative excellence of a Master Sergeant, making sure that a US base in Afghanistan has sufficient bombs, bullets and beans to be combat-effective, is any more (or less) combat-related than a UAV pilot sitting on the same base, sending commands to an unpiloted aircraft by satellite link. Both are indispensable, critical parts of the same war effort; both contribute measurably to the combat effectiveness of US forces in the field; both go home after work at night to the same sort of residential quarters . . . yet one qualifies for this new medal, while the other does not. Go figure.
I'm afraid we must chalk this one up to the eager instincts of REMF's, trying to make sure they get ribbons on their chests to match those of their fighting brethren in order not to look insignificant beside them when promotion time comes around. REMF's haven't changed much since my active service days . . . and I guess they never will. I predict that many - perhaps most - of those wearing the new DWM will probably be classified by their peers as having been 'decorated for being an REMF'. It won't be a comfortable situation for them at all - unless they're shameless, of course. Too many REMF's are.