Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of the "order of precedence" of the newly-created Distinguished Warfare Medal, which would have been awarded to drone operators, according to Department of Defense officials.
The investigation comes in response to concerns from lawmakers and veterans groups who said the medal, which would have been considered more prestigious than the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, could be insulting to soldiers who served in active combat. The Distinguished Warfare Medal would have been awarded to soldiers who served remotely and "[could] not be awarded for valor in combat under any circumstances."
The decision is a U-Turn for the Pentagon, who last week said there "[were] no plans to change its order of precedence."
According to a Department of Defense official, the review will be led by Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the review is to be completed within 30 days. The official would not comment on whether a new medal would have to be created in place of the Distinguished Warfare Medal.
"There were concerns of the medal's place of order of precedence," the official says. The move will be officially announced Tuesday afternoon.
Last week, a bipartisan group of nearly 50 lawmakers sent Hagel a letter that said they "cannot support the [medal] taking precedence above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart."
"The current order of precedence for the DWM is a disservice to Purple Heart recipients who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country or were wounded while serving in combat," they wrote. "We also feel it is a disservice to our service members and veterans who have, or who currently are, serving overseas in hostile and austere conditions."