Report: DOD launches review of new drone medal

As part of the review, Hagel directed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to examine Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) among other commendations, such as the Silver Star or Purple Heart, and whether that position is warranted, according to talking points obtained by the Associated Press.

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Dempsey's report and subsequent recommendations are due to Hagel by April, the AP reports. 

House Armed Services Committee member and Iraq war veteran Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said the decision falls in line with recent efforts by lawmakers to downgrade the medal's position. 

“The decision to rate the DWM so high represents everything that’s wrong with the awards process," Hunter said in a statement issued Tuesday. 

The new award falls between the Silver Star and Bronze Star, the third- and fourth-highest U.S. military honor available to American service personnel, and above the Purple Heart and are set aside for unmanned or cyber operations. 

While those members of the military usually serve far from harm's way, their impact on the battlefield is a harbinger of the new age in modern warfare, the DOD has argued.  

But that rationale dismisses the sacrifices made by those frontline troops, Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Monday. 

"We are very concerned about the message that this decision sends to those brave veterans of our Nation’s wars since 1941 whose heroism and meritorious service has been recognized by the Bronze Star Medal,” Levin and Inhofe wrote in a letter sent to Hagel. 

Ranking the new drone medal into its appropriate place is a "simple fix," Hunter said on Tuesday.

"But there will need to be some willingness on the part of decision makers within the Pentagon to admit this was a bad idea," the California Republican added. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who wrote Hagel along with more than 20 senators about the medal on Friday, also took to the Senate floor Monday to express his displeasure with the ranking of the medal.

In the House, more than four dozen lawmakers wrote to Hagel last week expressing the same issues with the ranking of the DWM.