(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon’s keeping up with the times. Now that cyberwarfare and drone strikes are part of modern combat, Defense Secretary Panetta has approved a new Distinguished Warfare Medal that will recognize heroic action from military members involved in those activities.
Controversially, because it’s a Department of Defense medal, it outranks the Bronze Star, which is the fourth highest medal for valor and is usually issued for heroic action on the battlefield (if it has the V device attached to it — V stands for valor).
At his news conference Wednesday, Panetta said his experience as Defense Secretary and as CIA Director had provided him with first-hand experience of how these new warriors, “have changed the way wars are fought” and impacted ground battles. However, he said there wasn’t a way to honor their great contributions which is why he’s authorized the new medal that recognizes the reality of warfare in the 21st Century.
“The medal provides distinct department-wide recognition for the extraordinary achievements that directly impact combat operations, but that do not involve acts of valor or physical risk that combat entails.”
He said the new medal will be reserved only for those who have met the highest standards.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN