WASHINGTON -- A military medal that would have honored contributions of drone pilots is now on hold.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today halted production of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, saying it warranted another look after lawmakers, veterans organizations and others complained that the medal was ranked above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, typically awarded for heroism on the front lines of battle.
The secretary heard the concerns and believes it's prudent to take them into account, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters today.
He said Mr. Hagel directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff to study the issue and make recommendations, not only on the ranking of the medal but on the criteria for awarding it.
Mr. Little said the new secretary "is a decisive leader but also a listener," who wants more input on the medal.
The reconsideration is a reversal for Mr. Hagel, who just days ago told Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that he stood by the ranking of the medal.
"It recognizes a specific type of contribution that is vital to the defense of our nation. It in no way degrades or minimizes our nation's other important awards or the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women who earn these prestigious recognitions," Mr. Hagel wrote to Mr. Toomey, who was among several lawmakers who had expressed concern over the ranking of the warfare medal.
Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, also has opposed the ranking. He is among the sponsors of a House bill to ensure the Purple Heart is ranked higher than the warfare medal.
The medal has not yet been minted and no recipients have been selected.
Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: 703-996-9292, email@example.com or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.