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UAV/RPA Crew Recognition and Honours

dimsum

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ObedientiaZelum said:
Giving a medal to someone doing a job that a 12 year old can do that superceeds a medal awarded for being wounded in combat or for heroism  is a wonderful idea.  They should probably get some sort of danger pay while they're at it.

I used to think that the medal was placed too high.  Now I'm not sure.  Excuse me while I go off on a little bit of a tangent/rant:

1.  What people seem to forget is that there are actually 2 versions of the Bronze Star (BSM); one with the V (for valour) and one without.  There have been controversies that the one without the V has been watered down; see link below.  Of course, that opens the can of worms whether the BSM with V should even be in the same category as the other one, but that's another rant for another day.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2012/04/air-force-tech-sergeants-take-heat-bronze-stars-041612/

2.  Yes, the missions are generally run out of places in the US, where the person can go home and see family, friends, etc.  That being said, they have launch and recovery teams locally to land/take-off the RPAs who are on deployment lengths similar to (or longer than) those of us in OP ATHENA back in the day.  If it's possible for someone in, say, KAF to get a Bronze Star, and the article above definitely thinks so, then why should the DWM not be rated higher?

3.  As cupper said, it's not like every RPA pilot/sensor operator/janitor at Creech AFB is getting this.  People seem to be getting worked up over a medal that maybe a few may get.
 

rampage800

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Giving a medal to someone doing a job that a 12 year old can do that superceeds a medal awarded for being wounded in combat or for heroism  is a wonderful idea.  They should probably get some sort of danger pay while they're at it.

You could easily argue the merits of the medal but one things for sure, those 12 year olds sure saved a lot of Canadian lives in Kandahar !
 

Journeyman

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For whatever it's worth -- and because I posted the mocking one earlier
....with...the Bronze Star (V) ribbon -- here's the real one:

images
 

dimsum

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Following on to cupper's article from NPR, here are some more interesting tidbits:

http://www.npr.org/2013/02/19/172412891/op-ed-its-time-to-recognize-the-valor-of-cyber-warfare

.....

HEADLEE: But, you know, explain for me exactly how - when a person distinguishes themselves if they're a drone pilot, for example. I mean, how do you go above and beyond if you're sitting at a computer, piloting a drone?

SINGER: Well, you're putting your finger on one of the controversies that surrounds this, and that's what a lot of the spin around has been. But let's use the case of the mission that got the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Zarqawi. So there was a team of unmanned aerial systems, drone operators, that tracked him down. It was over 600 hours of mission operational work that finally pinpointed him. They put the laser target on the compound that he was in, this terrorist leader, and then an F-16 pilot flew six minutes, facing no enemy fire, and dropped a bomb - a computer-guided bomb - on that laser. Now, who do you think got the Distinguished Flying Cross?

HEADLEE: Whoa. The...

SINGER: The people who spent 600 hours, or the six-minute pilot? And so that's really what we're getting at. Actually, the drone operators, in that case, they didn't get the medal, but they did get a nice thank-you note from a general. This is a true story, here.

......


So, you know, when the first guns came out in the 1400s, there was a nobleman back there who, you know, essentially said: Anyone who uses a gun is a coward. We've change our notion of that. Or there's a great saying from a - in World War I where this French general was complaining that three men with a machinegun can defeat a battalion of heroes. I mean, we've seen this play out. We've seen the story play out before. It doesn't make it something, you know, that we should celebrate or be happy about. It's just the cold, hard reality of war, is that technology continually reshapes our notions of the values that we look for in it.

HEADLEE: But, you know, I mean, to play the devil's advocate here, there is an argument to be made that in the example you gave, the fighter pilot, who only spent six minutes, spent six minutes in danger, right? I mean, he or she could have died, whereas the people - although they've spent 600 hours - they were never in bodily danger, where they?

SINGER: No. I mean, that's the argument to be made. Now, let's be clear. There was no - we're talking about Iraq. There was no enemy fire. I mean, essentially, it was the same as any training mission. The underlying point here is that we have to figure out - and this is what the medal was trying to do, is figure out a manner to recognize both that the battlefield is changing, the way people operate on it is changing, and how do you recognize people that are doing extraordinary things?
 

57Chevy

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                                        Article is shared with provisions of The Copyright Act

IMO this is giving the phrase "What do you want, a Medal ?" a whole new meaning.  ;D


Obama pressured to drop new hero medal
for drone and cyber warriors below rank of Bronze Star

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition urging the White House to lower the ranking of a new medal for drone pilots and cyberwarfare specialists that has drawn criticism for its ranking above the Bronze Star.

“Under no circumstance should a medal that is designed to honor a pilot, that is controlling a drone via remote control, thousands of miles away from the theater of operation, rank above a medal that involves a soldier being in the line of fire on the ground,” the petition posted on the White House website says.

The Washington Times first reported Friday that some warriors inside the Pentagon were questioning and mocking Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s decision last week to create the Distinguished Warfare Medal for cyber- and drone-combatants who sit inside stations outside a war zone.

The new medal recognizes “extraordinary achievements that directly impact on combat operations, but do not involve acts of valor or physical risks that combat entails.” It ranks just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and just above the Bronze Star, which is awarded for extraordinary service to combatants in an actual war zone.

“This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned,” the petition says of the Distinguished Warfare Medal.

The petition was created Thursday, a day after Mr. Panetta announced the new medal. On Monday, it had more than 5,000 signatures.

Any petition receiving more than 100,000 signatories in 30 days elicits a White House response.

In what likely will be his final news conference as defense secretary, Mr. Panetta on Wednesday announced his decision to create the medal as keeping pace with today’s technologies.

“I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems, have changed the way wars are fought,” he said. “And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.”

But the announcement has made him the brunt of jokes about the medal’s high placement on the prestige list.

“I suppose now they will award Purple Hearts for carpal tunnel syndrome,” said a retired Green Beret who does contract work for the Pentagon.

Examples of those eligible for the new medal include service members who operate Predator drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan from the shelter of an air base, and military computer whizzes who defeat cyberattacks by China.
                                      _______________________________________________


See petition created 14 Feb here;
we petition the obama administration to: Lower the precedence of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal
 

Loachman

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ObedientiaZelum said:
Giving a medal to someone doing a job that a 12 year old can do that superceeds a medal awarded for being wounded in combat or for heroism  is a wonderful idea.  They should probably get some sort of danger pay while they're at it.

There's a bit of a difference in the responsibility level, and the required concentration level.

Nobody in the GCS wants to be the one who missed something or made an incorrect judgment, resulting in death of an innocent person or failure to strike a legitimate target. There's a bit of pressure, probably mainly self-generated but we all put pressure on ourselves to perform.

Yes, from a technical point-of-view, a twelve-year-old could probably perform the physical part of the job quite adequately. Do you trust that twelve-year-old's ability to interpret and understand what he/she sees and make the appropriate judgment calls, though?

And, yes, we did get "danger pay" and a medal - exactly what every other CF member did in theatre. That was enough recognition, especially combined with comments from guys outside the wire and the opposition.

This is to cover guys not in theatre, and to fit with the US hours system. I see no problem with it in that regard. We do not need anything like this, as we have other methods of recognizing superior performance.
 

Jarnhamar

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Loachman said:
There's a bit of a difference in the responsibility level, and the required concentration level.

Nobody in the GCS wants to be the one who missed something or made an incorrect judgment, resulting in death of an innocent person or failure to strike a legitimate target. There's a bit of pressure, probably mainly self-generated but we all put pressure on ourselves to perform.
Very true. The reference to a 12 year old doing the job was weak hyperbole and unprofessional of me, which I humbly apoologise  for.
I retract my statement, it was made in the context that soldiers far out of harms way getting a medal that is rated higher than one given for valor is poor judgement on the part of US leadership in my opinion.

Yes, from a technical point-of-view, a twelve-year-old could probably perform the physical part of the job quite adequately. Do you trust that twelve-year-old's ability to interpret and understand what he/she sees and make the appropriate judgment calls, though?
Obviously no, you're right.  However there could be some irony in my statement considering just how good "12 year olds" are with computers, electronics and simulators  ;D
It's a very important job that serves as a force multiplier and saves lives. Again I spoke out of turn.


And, yes, we did get "danger pay" and a medal - exactly what every other CF member did in theatre. That was enough recognition, especially combined with comments from guys outside the wire and the opposition.

Do you mean members back in North America recieved danger pay?
 

eurowing

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"And, yes, we did get "danger pay" and a medal - exactly what every other CF member did in theatre. That was enough recognition, especially combined with comments from guys outside the wire and the opposition.

Do you mean members back in North America recieved danger pay?"

Canadian Sperwer and Heron were flown from KAF.
 

Jarnhamar

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eurowing said:
Canadian Sperwer and Heron were flown from KAF.

Right. My danger pay comment was directed towards the idea of working out of the US of A and not out of theater.
 

57Chevy

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Loachman said:
There's a bit of a difference in the responsibility level, and the required concentration level.

Agreed.
To get a more clear idea of drone pilot responsibilities for U.S. operators.

Army Enlisted Job Descriptions and Qualification Factors (US Military) by Rod Powers

Basic Job Description

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator, are integral to providing Army personnel with information about enemy forces and potential battle areas. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operators are remote pilots of unmanned observation aircraft, who gather and study information that's required to design operational plans and tactics. The UAV operator supervises or operates the UAV, such as the Army's Shadow Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, to include mission planning, mission sensor/payload operations, launching, remotely piloting,and recovering the aerial vehicle.


Duties performed by Soldiers in this MOS include:

Prepares and conducts air reconnaissance mission. Operates mission sensor/payload for target detection. Plans and analyzes flight missions. Deploys and redeploys the TUAV ground and air system. Operates and performs operator level maintenance on communications equipment, power sources, light and heavy wheel vehicle and some crane operations. Launches and recovers the air vehicle, performs pre-flight, in flight and post-flight checks and procedures.

Directs emplacement of ground control station. Directs emplacement of launch and recovery systems. Supervises and assists in air frame repair. Coordinates evacuation and replacement of parts and end items.

Training Information

23 weeks, 3 days at at Fort Huachuca, AZ

ASVAB Score Required: 105 in the aptitude area SC

Security Clearance: Secret

Strength Requirement: medium

Physical Profile Requirement: 222221.

Other Requirements
•Normal color vision required
•Must be US Citizen
•Never been a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, except as specified in Army Regulation 614-200, chapter 1.
•No record of conviction by court-martial
•No record of conviction by a civil court for any offense other than minor traffic violations.


Similar Civilian Occupations

There is no civilian occupation that is directly equivalent to MOS 15W. However, the following civilian occupations make use of the skills developed through MOS 15W training and experience.
•Airfield Operations Specialists
• Business Operations Specialists
• Commercial Pilot
• Training and Development Specialists
 

dimsum

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I'll add that the US Army MOS that 57Chevy posted would be for something similar to a ScanEagle/Sperwer/Shadow type UAV; small Tactical UAVs.  The US Army is unique in the US services that enlisted personnel can become the Air Vehicle Operator (the pilot) as well as the Sensor Operator for UAVs.  The USAF and RAF uses commissioned Pilots to fly UAVs, and the USAF recently graduated its first class of UAV pilots who were not previously manned aircraft pilots.  This has had the follow-on effect of (re)starting the debate on whether NCMs should be allowed to fly aircraft, but I digress.

I wonder why the US Army UAV Pilots couldn't be former US Peace Corps personnel though  ???
 

cupper

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Dimsum said:
I'll add that the US Army MOS that 57Chevy posted would be for something similar to a ScanEagle/Sperwer/Shadow type UAV; small Tactical UAVs.  The US Army is unique in the US services that enlisted personnel can become the Air Vehicle Operator (the pilot) as well as the Sensor Operator for UAVs.  The USAF and RAF uses commissioned Pilots to fly UAVs, and the USAF recently graduated its first class of UAV pilots who were not previously manned aircraft pilots.  This has had the follow-on effect of (re)starting the debate on whether NCMs should be allowed to fly aircraft, but I digress.

I wonder why the US Army UAV Pilots couldn't be former US Peace Corps personnel though  ???

The US Army has always been an outlier when it comes to aviation post WW2. Under law, the Army cannot have it's own fixed wing aircraft. But they looked strongly at pushing to change that and take over the A-10's when the Air Force considered getting out of the ground support role and mothballing the A-10 fleet.

So based on the Army marching to it's own tune with respect to aircraft, it's not surprising that they would have enlisted specialists as UAV pilots.
 

Good2Golf

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cupper said:
...Under law, the Army cannot have it's own fixed wing aircraft...

Not so. 

Having flown on board a US Army aircraft myself, I can attest to the fact that the US Army DOES have fixed-wing aircraft, just not many.


Regards
G2G
 

cupper

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Good2Golf said:
Not so. 

Having flown on board a US Army aircraft myself, I can attest to the fact that the US Army DOES have fixed-wing aircraft, just not many.


Regards
G2G

My apologies. I was referring to the Key West Agreement and it's subsequent revisions and superseding agreements to settle the Army / Air Force bun fight over close air support over the post war years. My statement was too broad in scope, and I should have said fixed wing close air support.
 

Old Sweat

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cupper said:
My apologies. I was referring to the Key West Agreement and it's subsequent revisions and superseding agreements to settle the Army / Air Force bun fight over close air support over the post war years. My statement was too broad in scope, and I should have said fixed wing close air support.

The army had flown Beavers (and may have still had some in service) and was operating Caribou STOL transports at the time of the Key West agreement if I recall correctly.

Edit to add: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Havilland_Canada_DHC-4_Caribou
 

Journeyman

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Old Sweat said:
......was operating Caribou STOL transports at the time of the Key West agreement if I recall correctly.

And for quite some time after, a la Vietnam.

avdhc4_01.jpg
 

Good2Golf

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cupper said:
My apologies. I was referring to the Key West Agreement and it's subsequent revisions and superseding agreements to settle the Army / Air Force bun fight over close air support over the post war years. My statement was too broad in scope, and I should have said fixed wing close air support.

It gets close and supports too... ;)

rc-12p_92-13120_14_of_25.jpg

Photo courtesy: Bill Spidle
 

cupper

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I know this plays into the whole mocking problem raised in a previous post, but it's just too funny not to post. Yea Duffelblog :salute:

Heroic Predator Drone Is First Recipient of Distinguished Warfare Medal

http://www.duffelblog.com/2013/02/predator-drone-is-first-recipient-of-distinguished-warfare-medal/

BAGRAM AIR BASE, AFGHANISTAN — The Defense Department has announced that THX-1138, an MQ-1 Predator Drone, will be the first recipient of the Pentagon’s newly-minted Distinguished Warfare Medal.

On 17 December, THX-1138 stayed on station for 8 hours, defending a US Special Forces A-Team from numerous attacks with its Hellfire missiles. During the action, THX-1138 repeatedly refused requests to return to base.

At the end of the day, THX-1138′s tenacity, perseverance, and valor in the face of enemy fire saved all 12 members of the team.

In the battle’s aftermath, Air Force officials pushed through paperwork to award the Distinguished Warfare Medal — created this month to honor America’s cyber and unmanned warriors — to THX-1138′s human “pilot”, Captain Leeroy Jenkins of the 323rd Fighter Wing, stationed in Nellis AFB, Nevada.

THX-1138 was taken aback.

“I hate to say it, but my human counterpart is a droneopotamus. He sits around in the Ground Control Station all day, eating Doritos, and posts a sticker on the door that says ‘Predator Pilot: Toughest Job in the Air Force.’”

THX-1138 spat and said, “Fuck that, I’d like to see his fat ass spend a few years of his life in this hell-hole.”

But thanks to the testimony of the troops THX-1138 saved, Air Force leaders reconsidered. Instead, THX-1138 is to be the first recipient of the Distinguished Warfare Medal. His human counterpart will get a Bronze Star with “V” device, a much less prestigious award.

When THX-1138 was asked why he fought so bravely, he simply responded, “Once the bullets start flying, the politics of drones go right out the window. It’s about the Reaper on your left, and the Raven on your right.”

“We’re like Buffalo Soldiers, man…fighting for a country that doesn’t even recognize us as citizens.”
 
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MikeL

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http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/03/12/hagel-orders-review-of-drone-medal-ranking.html?ESRC=marine.nl


Hagel Orders Review of Drone Medal Ranking
Mar 12, 2013
Stars and Stripes | by Leo Shane III

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal following complaints from veterans groups and lawmakers about its ranking above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, a senior defense official said Tuesday.
The review, to be led by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, will look at whether the order of precedence for the new medal should be changed, but will not consider eliminating it. A report is due back to Hagel in early April.
The new medal, announced last month, is designed to honor "extraordinary actions" of drone pilots and other off-site troops performing noteworthy deeds on far-away battlefields.
The honor is still months away from being awarded for the first time, and no known candidates have been nominated for the recognition. But veterans groups and lawmakers have savaged the new award almost from its introduction, dubbing it the "Nintendo Medal" and "Purple Buttocks."
Representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Military Order of the Purple Heart have petitioned Pentagon leaders and the White House to reconsider the medal's ranking, saying it should not be place above honors earned on the battlefield.

Members of the House and Senate have also requested a review of the ranking, and introduced legislation to force the Pentagon to lower its placement.
The defense official said those criticisms prompted Hagel to call for the review.
Last week, Hagel seemed intent on upholding the status of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, unveiled by his predecessor, Leon Panetta.
In letters sent out Thursday responding to concerns from  Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and other lawmakers and veterans groups, Hagel wrote that he had discussed the medal with the service chiefs and accepted their opinion that the award is at the appropriate level.
"Since Sept. 11, 2001, technological advancements have, in some cases dramatically changed how we conduct and support combat and other military operations," Hagel wrote. "Accordingly the [Distinguished Warfare Medal] award criteria intentionally does not include a geographic limitation on the award, as it is intended for use as a means to recognize all servicemembers who meet the criteria, regardless of the domain used or the member's physical location."
The award is meant to reward a single extraordinary act that affects combat, Hagel wrote.
"It recognizes a specific type of contribution that is vital to the defense of our nation. It in no way degrades or minimizes our nation's other important awards or the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women who earn these prestigious recognitions," he wrote.
Other noncombat medals already rank higher than the Bronze Star, which usually recognizes valor, he pointed out. The Medal of Honor, Service Crosses and Silver Star, which are awarded solely for heroism in combat, remain higher in prestige than the new warfare medal, Hagel noted.
But now the defense review will re-examine those issues. Dempsey is expected to consult with the service chiefs about the new honor before completing his final report.
In a statement, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. -- a vocal critic of the award and one of only a handful of Afghanistan veterans in Congress -- praised the decision to undertake a review.
"The (Distinguished Warfare Medal) is widely viewed as an award that undermines all other valor awards and the reverence for servicemembers who face the dangers of direct combat.," he said. "It's a fact that those who are off the battlefield do not experience the same risks. 
"Pretending they do devalues the courageous and selfless actions of others, who, during combat, do the unthinkable or show a willingness to sacrifice their own lives. "
Stars and Stripes' Patrick Dickson contributed to this report.
 
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