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DoD To Review 1,100 Post-9/11 Valor Awards For Possible Upgrades To MOH
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)
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Sen. Rick Scott is backing a bipartisan bill that would allow service members to essentially sue the United States government for medical malpractice if they are injured in the care of military doctors.
The measure has already passed the House and it has been introduced in the Senate, where Scott says he will sign on as a co-sponsor.
"As a U.S. Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, taking care of our military members, veterans and their families is my top priority," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
Little girls everywhere will soon have the chance to play with a set of classic little green Army soldiers that actually reflect the presence of women in the armed forces.
Russia established an air base in the Syrian city where withdrawing US troops were pelted with potatoes
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry's Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow's control over events on the ground there.
Qamishli is the same city where Syrian citizens pelted U.S. troops and armored vehicles with potatoes after President Donald Trump vowed to pull U.S. troops from Syria.