“I write to express my concern regarding the Distinguished Warfare Medal,” the letter stated. “While fully supporting appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am concerned about the new medal's possible ranking in DOD's order of precedence.”

The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, cyber war experts and personnel involved in combat operations who are not physically in a war zone.

Toomey asked Panetta to provide a rationale for the order of precedence of the new medal, which was announced earlier this year. He also asked if veterans were consulted in the decision.