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Pentagon backs off special medals for cyberwarriors

April 15, 2013 at 7:57 PM

WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- America's military cyberwarriors won't be awarded their own special medals after all, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel eliminated the Distinguished Warfare Medal just two months after it was created under his predecessor, Leon Panetta. Instead service members who directly affect combat operations without being present, such as Predator drone operators, will be recognized through distinguishing devices affixed to already existing awards, the department said in a release.

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women," Hagel said in a written release.

"I agree with the Joint Chiefs' findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal.

"The servicemen and women who operate and support our remotely piloted aircraft, operate in cyber, and others are critical to our military's mission of safeguarding the nation."

Veterans and lawmakers had opposed the medal for cyberwarriors, contending it was placed above some medals issued for valor on the battlefield, such as the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

The Washington Post reported the Pentagon said no service members had been nominated for the new medal.

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