Congress debates 'Nintendo medal'

March 6, 2013 at 9:43 AM

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The Pentagon's new medal for drone pilots sparked a debate in Congress over whether cyberwarriors should be commended for their service, officials said.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal was approved by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month and is the military's first new combat medal in more than 70 years, ABC News reported.

It is designed to award those that perform combat operations from afar.

ABC News said the medal will rank as the eighth highest individual award behind the Medal of Honor, but ahead of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart -- awards given to those in combat in the line of duty, ABC News said.

Critics are calling it the "Nintendo Medal," and veterans groups and Congressmen are now asking the Pentagon and President Barack Obama to downgrade the medal's status.

"We are supportive of recognizing and rewarding such extraordinary service, but in the absence of the service member exposing him or herself to imminent mortal danger, we cannot support the DWM taking precedence above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart," a bipartisan group of 48 lawmakers wrote new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday.

A White House official declined to comment on the criticism.

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