Pentagon's review of medals criteria is under way
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon is launching a major review of its military awards and decorations manual, to update the awards process to match the global nature of the current war on terror and to ensure that each service is handing out the same medals for the same reasons, service officials said Monday.
“The evolving nature of warfare demands that we review policies,” David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a press release.
A working group that includes representatives from each military service, the Joint Staff and the DOD’s Institute of Heraldry are conducting the review, which will take six to eight months, Maj. Stewart Upton, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday.
Their work will lead to a revised version of the Defense Department’s Manual of Military Decorations and Awards, he said.
The last revision was in 1996, although there have been additions and changes made since that time, Upton said.
The review will involve only decorations and awards that are offered by all the services, like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, not those that are unique to a particular service, Upton said.
Reviewers will focus on three major areas, including expeditionary medals, the release said.
“We need to define what, exactly, makes up the battlefield,” and qualifies a member for an expeditionary medal, Upton said. “How about the guy flying the plane that is dropping bombs over a battlefield? And what about the guy who’s putting the bombs on that plane back in Ohio?”
A second focus will be honor and valor awards, for which “we must clarify criteria, including a review of boundaries that increasingly extend far beyond a particular combat zone, yet involve direct threats to American lives” Chu is quoted as saying in the release. Servicemembers also have raised concerns about consistency when it comes to the award of the ‘V’ device for valor, Upton said.
“They want to make definitions consistent across the board in regards to the V device,” Upton said. “You want to be sure that if you see someone with a Bronze Star with a V, that everyone knows what that person did in order to rate that.”
A third area is whether the Pentagon should authorize multiple awards of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals, or otherwise develop a process for servicemembers to show multiple tours in either theater, Upton said. Right now, “there’s no way to show these consecutive tours.”