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Distinguished Warfare Medal To Recognize Meritorious Service
By Harold Hutchison

The Department of Defense has unveiled a new medal to recognize those who support combat operations in war zones – even when they are on a separate continent.

“Modern technology enables service members with special training and capabilities to more directly and precisely impact military operations at times far from the battlefield. The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded in the name of the secretary of defense to service members whose extraordinary achievements, regardless of their distance to the traditional combat theater, deserve distinct department-wide recognition,” a Department of Defense Press release said.

While discussing the new medal, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “I’ve always felt -- having seen the great work that they do, day in and day out -- that those who performed in an outstanding manner should be recognized. Unfortunately, medals that they otherwise might be eligible for simply did not recognize that kind of contribution.”

The new medal may be used to recognize UAV pilots that carry out missions like the 30 September, 2011 strike that killed American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had become a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It also could be used to recognize servicemen who defeat cyberattacks on American computer systems.