DoD To Review 1,100 Post-9/11 Valor Awards For Possible Upgrades To MOH

news
Army Captain (Ret.) Florent Groberg speaks at his Medal of Honor Hall of Heroes induction ceremony at the Pentagon, Nov. 13, 2015.

In the wake of a March 2014 review of the military’s decorations and awards system ordered by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon is set to review more than 1,100 awards for valor issued since Sept. 11, 2001, for possible upgrades to Medal of Honor awards.


An exclusive Jan. 6 USA Today article by Tom Vanden Brook notes that if it’s approved by current Defense Secretary Ash Carter, this review “would represent one of the most significant steps in decades to honor troops who have displayed extraordinary courage in combat.”

In an email to Task & Purpose, a spokesperson for the Pentagon said he had no additional information to add regarding the report and that the department was not involved in the sourcing for the story.

It’s possible that dozens more troops would receive the Medal of Honor for their bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, 17 service members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan have received the nation’s highest commendation for valor.

The most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor was Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who’s patrol was ambushed by two suicide bombers on Aug. 8, 2012, in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Groberg grabbed one bomber and pushed him away, onto the ground, triggering an explosion that severely wounded him, but saved several lives. Grober was awarded the Medal of Honor on Nov. 12, 2015.

According to documents obtained by USA Today, the review also recommended the following:

  • That a new award be created for troops who have directed drone strikes over battlefields in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and would include an “R” device recognizing “remote impacts on combat operations."
  • The establishment of a standard definition of meritorious service that limits combat awards to those exposed to “significant risk” due to hostile action.
  • Setting guidelines and goals to ensure Medal of Honor and other awards are made in a timely fashion.

The review of valor awards for upgrades to the Medal of Honor was the only one of the review’s 37 recommendations that was not reached by consensus, reports USA Today. It would also require the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy to review each of the Service Crosses and Silver Star nominations that’ve been awarded since 9/11.

To give some perspective, the Army alone has awarded 718 Silver Stars, wrote Vanden Brook, adding that the Navy and Marine Corps oppose such a review because it undermines the authority of a commander’s decision.

According to USA Today, a memo from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus noted that the review could “have long-term detrimental impact on our service culture and our awards program."

Over the phone, Tom Kelley, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and a recipient of the Medal of Honor, echoed this sentiment, saying that if troops are not being recognized for their actions, “for one reason or another” he sees no problem reviewing those cases, but drew the line at a blanket review, adding that “this is the process and the process works.”

UPDATE: Additional information from Tom Kelley was added to this article after publication. (1/6/16)

US Marine Corps

The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

Read More Show Less

At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.

A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.

Read More Show Less

In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

Read More Show Less