Hagel tells senators the new drone medal is ‘properly ranked’

Toomey said Monday that he received a response from the new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. According to a news release from Toomey, Hagel said he was convinced the new Distinguished Warfare Medal was “properly ranked among other medals.”

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"This is a disappointment," Toomey said Monday. "While I fully support appropriate recognition of all military personnel whose extraordinary actions make a difference in combat operations, I am concerned about this decision and the new medal's ranking in DOD's order of precedence. Pennsylvania's veterans and others have told me of their concerns with ranking the new medal above some combat valor medals, such as the Bronze Star Medal with valor device."

Later on Monday, Manchin joined Toomey in calling for DOD to reconsider the ranking of the medal. Manchin said he has no objection to the creation of the medal, but that it should not be placed higher than ones where soldiers are risking their lives.

DOD announced earlier this year that it would establish the new Distinguished Warfare Medal to be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, cyber war experts and other personnel involved in combat operations but who are not physically in the war zone.

"I believe that medals earned in combat should remain higher than noncombat medals," Manchin said on the Senate floor. "Risking ones life through combat and acts of heroism should be appropriately honored."

Toomey voted against the confirmation of Hagel to head DOD last month.

This article was updated at 5 p.m. to include Manchin's comments.

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