Thursday, February 14, 2013

Enemy moles in the Pentagon!

The hidden moles in the Department of Defense continue to burrow away at their nefarious work of undermining the morale of our troops.

The latest scheme to be uncovered is a plot to institute a Distinguished Warfare Medal, about the size of a '54 Buick hubcap, to be awarded to "pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations but who are not physically in theater and facing the physical risks that warfare historically entails."

Now, recognizing that there are people who are pulling their weight in the war effort in a way that has no direct analog in World War Two terms is fine and dandy, but here's the catch: They want to put this new "Thanks For Playing" award higher up the pecking order than the Bronze Star.

That's right: Private Snuffy, who stopped two Taliban AK bullets while dragging his buddy to safety and spraying covering fire from the hip with his SAW one-handed, gets a Bronze Star with a "V" for "Valor", while the pilot of the drone watching the whole thing through a camera overhead is sitting in a cubicle farm in Vegas in danger of nothing more serious than mixing up the regular and decaf pots, and he gets a bigger, shinier, better medal.

Brilliant work, Deep Cover Secret Agent! You sure know how to destroy your enemy's morale and cohesion!

52 comments:

Roberta X said...

Ah, but Mr. Done Pilot has a lot more free time to write his Congressperson -- and he might even show up at your office in person.

Srsly, WTF? I can see where an outstanding drone-runner might rate, oh, free dinner for two at Steak World, but a high-grade medal? No. Hells no.

Maybe a medal for the boys and girls who, much closer to the danger, do all the ground support for the machines, but a medal for what amounts to playing a video game with a lot of collateral damage? Nope; in fact, I'm still half-convinced it might rate war crimes charges instead.

Tam said...

"I'm still half-convinced it might rate war crimes charges instead."

Only if we charge WWII B-17 pilots, too.

John Stephens said...

Bah, they send 'em up with the rations and have since Vietnam. The people that matter know which ones matter, the rest are just promotion coupons.

Ancient Woodsman said...

I would think that some form of special logo on a limited-edition pocket protector would be more in the spirit.

Or maybe a gilded Big Gulp cup, or perhaps a special color of tape for the glasses bridge, or a recorded "Moooooom....!" for when the game (oops, drone) console freezes up occassionally.

Any of the above would be far more appropriate than a medal of any kind, and none of the above nor the actions recognized by them could even remotely come close to what a Bronze Star is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

I twitch every time "spray fire from the hip" is said, even in cases where it is actually applicable.

Joseph said...

Sadly, some will view said medals as if they were actually earned. Awards above the "Achievement Unlocked!" variety is a bit much.

Maybe they get them a free year of XBOX Live if they do good instead?

Fred said...

I was fully expecting a link to Duffleblog.... :(

billf said...

I can see it all,10 years from now,"What's this medal for,Daddy?"
Well,there I was,it was dark,and all around me,I could see computer monitors,and from out of nowhere,a voice,well I guess it was from over there where the fighting was,the voice told me some coordinates,and I carefully typed them in...
Bill

ISH (Mininerd) said...

From the President who got a Nobel Peace Prize for nothing, an outgoing Secretary of State that dodged fictional sniper, an incoming SecState that won three purple hearts for *cough*mumble*cough*...

This seems only logical now that the generation that was raised on scoreless soccer and participation ribbons is now the generation in the officer corps.

docjim505 said...

Unfortunately, the military awards system has been increasingly out of kilter for decades as John Stephens notes above. During my term in the National Guard in the (mostly) peaceful '90s, it was not uncommon to see soldiers with almost as much fruit salad as Audie Murphy but who'd never heard a round fired in anger.

It's one thing to recognize good performance, but quite another to cheapen exemplary performance above and beyond the call of duty by passing out ribbons and medals like so much candy at Halloween.

A good drone operator should have his skills recognized in some way, but to put his work in any way on level with actual, a-guy-could-get-killed-doing-this combat is... well, wrong.

Bram said...

"The Medal of Pogueness"

"REMF Star"

This will be awesome - a medal / ribbon to let actual soldiers know when they are in the presence of chairborne rangers.

Stuart the Viking said...

Maybe it will be used more as a "shut up" metal. The guy who gets the order to drone-strike an American citizen on foreign soil, without a trial, based only on the belief by someone high up that he "must be in cahoots with the bad guys", and follows that order without question gets the metal. "Now son, you wouldn't want to screw up your shiny new metal by blabbing all of this to the press would you?"

s

Tam said...

Bram,

""The Medal of Pogueness" "

I LOL'ed. :D

Anonymous said...

Not to say that the placement of this medal is a good idea, however I think it was placed where it was to make it analogous with the Distinguished Flying Cross, which is also ranked above the Bronze Star. Considering that we give DFCs to pilots that support ground troops in contact who are flying fast movers that are in near no danger from Taliban who are sometimes equipped with nothing bigger than AKs while the pilot never goes below 6K feet...

Likewise with the Bronze Star a private has to do something very brave to receive one. A Captain needs to do a fair to middlin job to get one.

Bullshit will always exist in the award system. Make all the fixes you want, there will still be absurdities and injustices in the system. That is not said to justify doing nothing, but just pointing out that it can be better but never fixed.

Buzz said...

ISH nailed it.
I liken it to football games. There may well be an assistant coach in the booth that gives instruction or observes an opportunity, but the MVP can ONLY BE a player on the field.

daleosborn said...

As the father of a son who has been awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, this just frosts my cookies. Email has been sent to my congresscritter and the senators.

My son's MATV was blown up. After regaining consciousness he noticed his LT was blown outside the vehicle. He leaped out under fire, threw his LT back in the vehicle, picked up his weapon and engaged the enemy until rescued. AND HIS MEDAL WILL BE LOWER THAN MR JOYSTICK????? GAAAHHH!

Woodman said...

Infantry units have always been stingy with awards to enlisted soldiers, therefore you end up with awards that may have been created with lower expectations having more worth than designed to have.

A bronze star is kind of a big deal, but I wonder if it wasn't intended to be handed out as a recognition for bravery under fire, and the PVT Snuffy story should be a silver star? You had to do something really brilliant to get an ARCOM in my unit. In any case, make the drone pilot medal like the marksmanship badge, or the driver's badge.

The medal I always wanted was my EIB or CIB. And no drone pilot is ever getting one of those sitting in their ads.

Mark said...

@Anonymous: Sorry, can't really agree with making the drone award the equivalent of the DFC. Even if the pilot supporting ground troops never gets within range, he's STILL got his butt in the air, so his danger level is still well above zero. Planes break, and when they do bad things can happen to the pilots.

Of course superior drone operators need to be recognized and rewarded as such. I'm not really up on military awards, but I assume there are non-valor awards for exemplary service, how about fitting the new one in there?

Tam said...

daleosborn,

Thank your son for me.

Armed Texan said...

You can't mention pogues without linking this classic: The Pirates of Pogadishu.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Dad had a Bronze Star, awarded for crawling out under enemy fire and repairing a phone line so his mortar squad could communicate with higher.

While he downplayed the whole thing as "somebody had to do it", I suspect he'd still be rather upset that some pencil-neck geek REMF sitting well out of any danger zone is getting a medal worth more than the one he got.

This just goes to show how far we've fallen. It's truly depressing.

Anonymous said...

Instead of a medal, shouldn't the service just award "Achievement Unlocked" like on the video games that my nephews play when the drone operators kill a certain number?

Shootin' Buddy

Roberta X said...

Tam: B-17s operated outside the war zone, against largely-civilian targets? Who knew!

Tam said...

Well, the B-17s certainly did operate against civilians, as those weren't uniformed combatants running the ball-bearing factories.

I don't know if the drones are operating outside the AUMF or not. If they are, Congress needs to yank that leash.

Robert said...

I'm reminded of the Willie & Joe cartoon where Willie is confronting a REMF desk clerk who is pointing to his ribbons declaring "Yer combat badge don't count, you gotta have more of these battle participation stars."

http://patchesofpride.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bill-mauldins-g-i-joe-3.jpg

Earl said...

Medals are interesting until you have more than five, then you are in competition with Banana Republics and Italian opera stars.

Of course I didn't get my Distinguished Service Medal... for they had an attitude about me....

politics are very like that.

8Notch said...

Reminds me of the 27th Maine, a nine-month regiment during the Recent Unpleasantness. Then never saw combat and sent most of their term guarding Washington D.C. When Lee invaded Pennsylvania, there was a call for volunteers to stay on station about an extra week. Those who did were awarded the Medal of Honor. The award was new at the time and the only such medal, so the standard varied quite a lot. They were purged from the roles during the Great War due to changing criteria for the award.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27th_Maine_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment

Ken said...

The Pour le 'Leet? The Blue MinMax?

Firehand said...

Son's been telling me about retention problems and morale problems*; oh, this is REALLY going to help.

Dale, son told me about his MRAP hitting a mine, and his first thought was "Shit, the bad guys are coming!" I guess stuff like that doesn't rate like carpal tunnel for a drone operator.

I've been told that in a lot of units, if they wanted you to get, say, a Bronze Star they had to submit you for something higher, because it was almost always knocked down at least a level.

*And that doesn't count the "If sequestration goes through, training will be dropped to a lower level" crap. Considering the level it's at now...

Anonymous said...

"Well, the B-17s certainly did operate against civilians, as those weren't uniformed combatants running the ball-bearing factories."

Or for that matter, getting firebombed/flattened a couple of miles away from anything particularly military.

Seriously, I don't want to knock the actual men flying the planes, but there are some target planning & command guys in the allied airforces who, if judged by the same standards applied to the losers, would have something to answer for.

The really sad thing is how ineffective a lot of WWII Allied bombing was, given it's enourmous cost, human, cultural and monetary.

Wayne said...

Hey! I'm a weapons design and test engineer, living in the Mojave Desert. I should get a medal just for that.

staghounds said...

The medal is also very ugly.

Woodman said...

In playing the "I'm gunna git you Sucka" card here I do think we are glossing over something.

Pooh-Pooh the sentiment as much as you want. But I wonder if these guys aren't doing more damage to their psyches than your average meat-eating infantry man-beast. I click this button and that cafe gets blown up, ten minutes later Billy clicks his button and he just blew up the pieces and the first responders.

Are they getting shot at? No, is there any physical bravery being shown there? No, but you can't tell me it's easy going home on the highway and kissing the kids goodnight and it all just goes away like a bad TPS report. And they can't talk about it to anyone.

So, no, don't rank it above a medal given for bravery in the heat of battle, but on second thought it should rank more than a competency badge. I don't envy those guys a bit. I took my chances as an 11B, if I have to kill someone I want to be there. And you know, if someone does something awesome with a drone that totally saves a company, or a whole village or some other crap, then there should be something appropriate for that, because those lives are just as saved either way.

These guys are soldiers, defending our country, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who love being able to say "send in a drone" instead of going themselves.

Goober said...

Anonymous @953 - I've always thought that there are a lot of guys in the allied bomber command that should be thanking Gawd Almighty that we didn't lose because they could very well have been made to answer for what they did.

War is so chock full of gray areas that there will always be something going on that smacks of criminal action. That's why when I condemn the drone strikes I do it from an entirely different angle by asking whether they accomplish their mission or are counterproductive. My conclusion is that they are a great recruitment tool for al qaeda and very little else.

Goober said...

I'm talking about out of theatre drone strikes. Not air support or in theatre drone actions. The strikes in Pakistan and Yemen do us more harm than good IMHO.

Scott_S said...

The stupidity of some people in command makes me question how the hell they ever got there.

CJM said...

" pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations"

Adding the drone pilot is simply a way to get this medal up by the Distinguished Flying Cross, most of the "winners" of this medal are going to be the staff officers at the Pentagon who are never going to see combat or get a command because they lack the "makes good decisions under pressure" line in their evaluations.
It's just a way to reward staff wienies for being staff wienies; and definitely should be down by the theater combat medal given to anyone serving in whatever theater of war (whether combat or cook, clerk or even staff wienie) and no where near the Bronze Star or even Combat Infantry badge.

Kristophr said...

Ya know ... the KGB had ranks and medals.

They just didn't talk about what their medals were for.

I suspect the drone controllers and the cyber-spooks are all going to end up in the CIA anyway. They can make whatever medals they feel they need. It just should be clear that they aren't in any way related to armed forces medals.

Woodman said...

Hey, CIB has it's own spot for a reason. I would put it out there that your average infantryman in war time performs actions worthy of a Bronze Star with a V at least once per tour, and I think that's why there is a CIB.

Even the most conscientious superiors cannot see, or hear, of every act out there, nor can they recommend every person in their unit for medals every patrol, or even every deployment. The difference between a Bronze Star and a theatre medal and an ARCOM could be who was running the desk that day, or how bad the reports looked, or even the fact that SSG Goober already has four bronze stars in his squad this tour.

But, I'm a infantry centric asshole. So, who knows.

RandyGC said...

Same Sh** Different Day.

I'm still POed that they give "wings" to people that don't perform their missions sitting in an environment that will kill you long before the enemy is in range if you let it.

If they want a REMF medal fine, but rank it maybe just above a Commendation metal, definitely below the Air Medal.

Boat Guy said...

I just LOVE the way our drone "pilots" wear Nomex flight suits.
Pogues, aye.

Woodman said...

I don't want to sound like the drone defender here. But, they push that button and people die.


That's something pogues never deal with.


And I think that is a difference maker. If people's lives mean anything, then these guys are sacrificing something, if nothing else bits and pieces of their humanity. They have to keep it straight in their heads that it's not a game, that they are really killing real people.

Anonymous said...

Purple hearts for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Penny Pincher Personal Finance said...

The Nazis used to hand out medals left and right too.

Tam said...

44 posts until Godwin's Law! :D

Robert Fowler said...

Bram said...

This will be awesome - a medal / ribbon to let actual soldiers know when they are in the presence of chairborne rangers.

That has to be a QOTD right there.

I got one medal when I was in the marines, a NDSM. That was it. Other than my Rifle expert badge. Marines aren't big on medals, especially in peace time.

Firehand said...

Chuck Yeager wrote about his squadron getting a mission to patrol a 50x50 mile area and kill anything that moved; one of the other pilots said "If we're going to do stuff like this, we'd better win."

I can understand a decoration of some kind; ranking it where they've decided to is... well, a number of words would fit and they all mean 'not right'.

Anonymous said...

You know Tam and Roberta the anniversary of the Dresden firebombing start was yesterday (Feb 13)

Rich

Anonymous said...

The gangbangers are enlisting to get skill at arms and tactics. What if FREEFOR signed up its Medal of Valor champs for the Drone Wars?
_revjen45

ghostsniper said...

That shit only has meaning in a meaningless world. I got a whole chest full of fruit salad for my 4 years and didn't do a damn thing but show up regularly. Guess what? That shit's been hanging in the back of the closet for 35 years where it belongs. The LIEberals have converted the entire world into a kindegarden full of silly children....

mumbles said...

If the Drone medal wasn't enough proof of enemy infiltration, check out the proposed medal for not shooting anything:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/05/military_restraint_medal_051110mar/

Anonymous said...

My sons, who are both in one 'stan or another in different branches of the military think this is a crock. I am a retired CMSgt and think it is just one more step in the progression of awards and medals for darn near anything in the AF. The leadership doesn't seem to comprehend that if everyone "wins" an award there is just not much value to it. Of course the leadership also doesn't comprehend that the troops realize it's all for show. If the airman's performance has been absolutely exemplary while operating a drone or defending against a cyber attack then they have earned an Meritorious Service Medal; it has as many promotion points as a Bronze Star for the enlisted but without the "in the war zone connotations" which they don't earn anyway. EdC