The Pentagon is creating a new high military honor called The Distinguished Warfare Medal. It will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts and those directly involved in combat operations who are not physically in theater facing physical warfare. Somewhat controversially, the medal will rank higher than some traditional combat valor medals, including the Bronze Star with Valor, a medal awarded to troops for heroic acts performed under fire.
In a statement Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters that the new award "recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century."
"Our military reserves its highest decorations obviously for those who display gallantry and valor in actions when their lives are on the line, and we will continue to do so. But we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations. The contribution they make does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight."
The new medal is a 2-inch brass pendant, with a globe encircled by a laurel wreath and an eagle in the center. The ribbon has blue, red and white stripes. The new medal will be awarded for specific acts, such as the successful targeting of a particular individual at a critical time.