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Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Law, Media, Politics, Society, War | 32 comments

(UPDATES) DOD Announces the Distinguished Warfare Medal

Front of Distinguished Warfare Medal, designed to recognize service members directly affecting combat operations who may not even be on the same continent as the action. DOD graphic


Notwithstanding the public outcry — including from military and veterans organizations — over the order of precedence of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM), the Pentagon has decided to retain its present order of precedence which now places the DWM just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and above the Bronze Star.

“We are not diminishing at all the importance of the Bronze Star — that remains an important award for our combat troops and will remain so …We expect this award to be granted pretty rarely, and that factored in to the decision [on its precedence],” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today, according to the American Forces Press Service (AFPS).

AFPS adds:

To be eligible to receive the award, a service member has to have direct, hands-on employment, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle operator dropping a bomb or a cyber specialist detecting and fending off a computer network attack.
Combatant commanders must certify the impacts of the action before the award is forwarded to the service secretary for approval. The secretaries may not delegate that authority.

Read more here.


Through the White House’s “We the People — Your Voice in our Government” petition process signatures are being gathered for a petition to the Obama Administration to lower the precedence of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal.

The Petition reads:

The Pentagon is introducing a new medal to recognize the service of pilots of unmanned drones during combat operations. This medal will be placed in precedence order just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and just above a Bronze Star Medal. Bronze Stars are commonly awarded with a Valor device in recognition of a soldier’s service in the heat of combat while on the ground in the theater of operation. 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. This is an injustice to those who have served and risked their lives and this should not be allowed to move forward as planned.

If interested in signing this petition, please click here.

As of this writing, almost 96,000 signatures have been gathered, of the 100,000 needed.



Add the Veterans of Foreign Wars to the growing number of organizations (and individuals) who have serious issues with the precedence or rank that the Pentagon has given the new Distinguished Warfare Medal. reports:

“The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact on the battlefield in real-time, but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear,” VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton said in a statement released Thursday. “The VFW urges the Department of Defense to reconsider the new medal’s placement in the military order of precedence.”

Hamilton said the new medal and its ranking “could quickly deteriorate into a morale issue.”



Perhaps stung by the controversy created by the announcement of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal and by the “precedence” of the medal over other decorations, Juliet Beyler, the acting director of officer and enlisted personnel management in the Pentagon has attempted to clarify some aspects.

Jim Garamone at the American Forces Press Service:

Beyler said in an interview that technological developments on the battlefield have changed the way service members fight.

“The services all came forward and said there are people … who are doing incredible things and we wanted the ability to recognize them for those things,” she said.

There are no existing awards that adequately recognize the contributions these service members make. Examples of the actions that would be recognized by the new medal include a service member who is involved in a cyber attack on a specific military target.

“That would be someone possibly who would be eligible for this award,” Beyler said.

Another possible recipient would be an unmanned aerial vehicle operator who takes out a specific military target. “Another example might be a service member who is orchestrating and moving troops on a battlefield, but perhaps, is not physically present, but does something that contributes in some extraordinary way to the battle,” Beyler said.

Each service secretary is going to develop the specific procedures for who is eligible to receive the award. The service member has to have direct hands-on employment in order to be eligible. Combatant commanders must certify the impacts of the action before the award is forwarded to the service secretary for approval. The service secretaries are the approving authorities and those authorities cannot be delegated, Beyler said.

“This is for direct impacts,” she said. “There are other meritorious awards that recognize service over a period of time — this [award] is intended to recognize specific impacts on the battlefield.”

The criteria for the award is akin to that of the Distinguished Flying Cross. “The Distinguished Flying Cross is for a single impact, a single incident, and the Distinguished Warfare [Medal] is designed to address a single incident,” she said.

The award’s precedence is what is making the award controversial. Many veterans’ service organizations object that the award will have a higher precedence than the Bronze Star Medal.

“The award is directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross,” Beyler said. “Awards for valor — the Medal of Honor, the service Crosses and the Silver Star — are all higher in precedence that the Distinguished Warfare Medal and will remain so.”

The vast majority of Bronze Star Medals are not awarded for valor, she said. Only 2.4 percent of Bronze Stars are given with a V device connoting a valor award. Depending on the service, the V-device can also be awarded with commendation medals.



Criticism of the Department of Defense’s new medal to recognize military members’ extraordinary achievements, including those who remotely pilot unmanned, armed aerial vehicles, has not only come from outside the military, but it has now “sparked an uproar among troops and veterans when it revealed that a new high-level medal honoring drone pilots will rank above some traditional combat valor medals in the military’s ‘order of precedence.’”

As I have stated in my comments on this issue, while I recognize the purpose of the medal, I have problems with the “precedence” given the new Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM).

Because of the high “precedence” assigned to the medal, it will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and it will rank above the Bronze Star with Valor device, awarded to troops for specific heroic acts performed under fire in combat.

Read more on the backlash among our military here


Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has provided additional information on the new medal:

“This new medal recognizes the changing character of warfare and those who make extraordinary contributions to it,” said the general. “The criteria for this award will be highly selective and reflect high standards.”

The most immediate example is the work of an unmanned aerial vehicle operator who could be operating a system over Afghanistan while based at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The unmanned aerial vehicle would directly affect operations on the ground. Another example is that of a soldier at Fort Meade, Md., who detects and thwarts a cyberattack on a DOD computer system.

The medal could be used to recognize both these exceptional acts, officials said.

In the order of precedence, the Distinguished Warfare Medal will be below the Distinguished Flying Cross, and will be limited to achievements that are truly extraordinary. “The member’s actions must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from comrades or from other persons in similar situations,” a DOD official said.

The military department secretary must approve each award, and it may not be presented for valorous actions. “This limitation was specifically included to keep the Distinguished Warfare Medal from detracting from existing valor decorations, such as the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses and Silver Star Medal,” the official said.

Back of medal. DoD Graphic


As expected, the criticism to the Department of Defense’s announcement that it has created a new medal to recognize a service member’s extraordinary achievements directly impacting combat operations, including those who remotely pilot unmanned but armed aerial vehicles, has been swift to come.

At the Atlantic Wire we read:

While the move will undoubtedly rankle some of the infantrymen and Special Forces veterans who get shot at on a near daily basis during their combat deployments, the Pentagon is eager to find some way to recognize the achievements of those who are fighting modern battles, but just happen to be doing so from a computer lab or flight simulator instead of the war zone…


Yet a successful drone pilot creating air cover for a squadron on the ground can save just as many lives as one who takes a bullet for fellow soldier. That’s not the same level of heroism, obviously, but it only seems fair that they get some recognition for their contributions. And “real pilots” will still insist that they not share the same medal with drone operators. As one Air Force colonel told Politico last year, “The basic fact of the matter is no one is shooting back at you. That makes a big difference. Combat pilots respect drone pilots, but I think we’d be uneasy about it if they were to get the same award.”

CODA: This reaction by the Atlantic Wire is relatively mild. We’ll report others, too.


Original Post

In a move that is certainly to fan the attack drone controversy, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced today the creation of the Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize a service member’s extraordinary achievements directly impacting combat operations.

According to DoD:

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.

“I have seen first-hand how modern tools like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems have changed the way wars can be fought,” said Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. “We should also have the ability to honor extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations, even if those actions are physically removed from the fight.”

Based on the order of precedence, the Distinguished Warfare Medal will sit directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross. It may be awarded for actions in any domain but not involving acts of valor.

“This new medal recognizes the changing character of warfare and those who make extraordinary contributions to it,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. “The criteria for this award will be highly selective and reflect high standards.”

The medal, designed by The Institute of Heraldry, will be available in the coming months. The signed memo, criteria for the medal, along with the design, can be seen here

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Copyright 2013 The Moderate Voice
  • Well, yesterday morning on CBS This Morning Dick Cheney publicly endorsed the Obama administration’s drone policy. That’s Dick Cheney, the ultimate neocon and proponent of perpetual war [who also lied to us about WMD in Iraq and Iraq’s close relationship with Al-Qaeda, who, through his chief of staff, violated the confidentiality of a CIA agent because she was married to an inconvenient diplomat, the self-selected vice president, draft dodger]. Yes, that Dick Cheney. Who thinks our drone policy is just dandy.

    I think there should be a civilian equivalent honor named “The Dick Cheney Perpetual War Award.”

    And just for grins, I’ll give Barack Obama my unsolicited advice. Mr. President, pull back the covers and see who you’re in bed with.

    There you go. Is that a controversial enough start to get a comment thread going?

  • dduck

    I may be wrong, but I think this new medal could get its own MEH award.

    ES, can you endorse a policy you were part of starting? What, the Bush-Lite endorsement?

  • Duck,

    I believe we should offer a million dollar prize to anyone who can explain how and when the “War on Terror” is supposed to end…as in what’s the exit strategy, the end game.

    My personal opinion regarding this devine event is that one day all the terrorists of the world will realize they are defeated and show up at the Appomattox Courthouse to surrender. Now if only I could figure out when that will happen maybe I can be eligible for the prize. In the meantime, we have the neocon’s delight: permanent war.

    Sorry to be so snarky.

  • dduck

    ES, you were probably too young to have participated in the Crusades, so maybe you don’t know the ardent fever folks on both sides felt, and I believe still feel. Oh, not everyone, but enough to make the “permanent” war you speak off. Unlike your rabbits, we humans are basically not too nice and our reptilian brains still enjoy dominating, controlling and yes killing. That coupled with a tit for tat due to violence perpetrated by one side that begets another round and, you get it.
    My question is why does that seem so strange or out of the ordinary.
    Snarky is OK, btw.

  • It’s not strange, Duck. Just disappointing. Our species was once rumored to have the capacity to learn and evolve.

  • dduck

    Nah, takes a little longer, remember that sabre tooth rabbits once roamed the earth.

  • Here’s my recommendation for the design of this medal:


  • dduck


  • slamfu

    ES, you don’t think our societies have evolved much in the last say, 500 years? I think your requirements are too high. If you dial down expectations a bit I think you will see we have come a VERY long way in a very short time. Even if you want to merely go back 100 years. From everything, to standards of living, resource management, international relations limiting war, crime, etc… across the board we have improved and continue to do so.

  • dduck

    Slam, One of my favorite book/movies is Lord of The Flies. Given no law or authority (you can throw in good leadership, if you wish) and some of us will revert to our basest primitive selves.

  • You’re right, Slamfu. We’ve evolved from hand-to-hand combat to killing by remote control and referring to the dead and maimed as collateral damage so nobody can confuse them with real human beings.

    I stand corrected, though very snarkily.

    Of a more serious nature, I will never agree that the neocon dream of perpetual war is a good thing or a sign of having evolved. You, or anyone else is/are wasting keystrokes trying to convince me that murdering dehumanized “collateral damage” predominantly of the black and brown skinned non-Christian variety in places like Waziristan, Somalia and Yemen constitutes a virtue. I will grant that there has been progress in other areas of the human condition.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Well for ones like myself that oppose the drone… this medal is somewhat like “lipstick on the pig”…

    Let me clarify, not the one that uses his finger to push the lever, but rather the pig is the drone, and this is the attempt to make it honorable….I honor the soldiers, but do not see this as individual valor.

    Yet do we give metals to those that execute and the lever or make injections in death penalties? They are not in the line of fire, but they kill while maintaining their emotional and moral distance. Do not see this as personal valor.. but rather more like those that execute for death penalties…

  • dduck

    ES, I read historical fiction and it is rife with catapults flinging all sorts of things like fire and: As well as attempting to breach the walls, incendiary missiles could be thrown inside—or early biological warfare attempted with diseased carcasses or putrid garbage catapulted over the walls.

    I don’t think they were too worried about innocents in those days. At least now we pay lip service to protecting innocents although I think drone use will either decline now that we have developed a conscience (cough) or else since we are running out of “high-value targets” and with an increasing number of drones being produced, all targets will become HV. To a man who only has a hammer, all the world seems to have a lot of nails.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Hi Ordinarysparrow,

    I reflected quite a bit on what you said.

    First, I have already stated my position — both in a column and in comments — on the use of drones to take out enemy combatants and terrorists who pose an imminent threat to our troops, Americans or our national security.

    As to the award of a medal to those who operate and control those drones from thousands of miles away, I have some mixed feelings.

    First, the purpose of military awards and decorations is to provide recognition and reward for heroism, meritorious service, outstanding achievement and other acts or services which distinguish an individual or unit among those performing similar acts or services.

    Such a program fosters morale, incentive, and esprit de corps.

    Second, these men and women who control the remotely piloted platforms are doing such with skill and are performing their mission and duties under the lawful orders of their superiors and, ultimately, of their commander-in-chief. (Some may, at this point, want to bring in the Nurnberg trials, etc., but I honestly do not think that such merits serious discussion).

    In the skilful performance of their duties they are — as mentioned before — taking out those who would do us harm, they are protecting our troops and sometimes turning the tide of a battle while doing their utmost to avoid innocent casualties– the so-called “collateral damage.” (Can you imagine if a drone could have been available to take out the Taliban who killed eight of our troops and injured a score of them at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan on October 3rd, 2009?)

    There are many military decorations awarded for performing ordinary military duties — even managerial ones — such as Commendation Medals and Meritorious Service Medals. We have “Sharpshooter” medals and, heck, there is even a decoration for staying out of trouble, the “Good Conduct Medal.”

    So, while I do not believe that the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s order of preference should be directly below the Distinguished Flying Cross — it should be somewhat further down the line — I see no problem with recognizing the skills and the awesome responsibility of those controlling these weapons of war.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Dorian…I am not informed about the distinctions between the medals that honor and do see your point… but this post has got me checking more into the distinctions of each award.

    When i associate the medals the first association is with valor…

    Surely ‘Valor’ is one of the most beautiful expressions the human form can express.

    Partly where i sense we disagree on this is your focus is more towards the end result justifies the means? If drones can reduce the loss of our troops, and national lives and interest then we justified?

    We lost near 3000 at 911 yet Iraq and Afghanistan lost hundreds of thousands of innocents… Are U.S. lives more important than theirs? Our are significant loss, but are theirs collateral damage?

    My view may be more philosophical but aimed towards a greater reduction in the loss of life through acts of war…As horrible as war is to remove ourselves from the horror makes it easier for politicians with skewed power, profit, and/or self interest to send our troops into conflict. Here i am think of the Iraq war such as Cheney and Bush cronyism with their oil related business interest and contracts…

    Dorian isn’t part of the way we refrain and reduce war is through the loss of troops? The count goes up, the citizens begin to demand that the troops are brought home, and there is a withdraw from the war?

    What would it be like if America or another country uses technology to kill without any risk of loss to their own troops? Does that move us from war to domination? Is that progress? Is that a sustaining vision for a better world for all?

    Perhaps i am being very course here, but it seems to me when it comes to war, unless everyone that engages in it bleeds then there will be a hemorrhage that will only escalate war on this planet.

    I know this is rambling, back to what we have shared before…

    Am a bit skeptical about the merit awards for those that operate the drones. The timing seems questionable, as i stated earlier, ‘the pig’ is the powers that send men and women into battle for profit, prestige, and power, and then they create awards for those that operate the drones, as part of the propaganda to legitimize drones by painting them honorific symbolism of the soldiers or in this case highly skilled technicians… For this to occur at this time, not for sure it passes the smell test?

    I will close with this question; Do you believe Oppenheimer should of been given the Presidential Citation and Medal of Merit for development of the bomb?

    in 1946, Dr. Oppenheimer received a Presidential Citation and a Medal of Merit for his direction of the Los Alamos Laboratory, where the bomb had been developed.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist


      Please read UPDATE III, above, relevant to our discussion

  • ordinarysparrow

    Also would like to know more about who it is that makes the drones? Are there financial interests associated with the manufacture and production of the drones, as there is with fighter planes and other military weapons? If one follows the money with drones, where does that lead? Is there a tail wagging the dog when it comes to drones… I ask these question with a soft voice, am just curious…..Had not paid much attention to drones until it was brought up here at TMV and still have many questions? And continue to search for the answers.

    Thanks Dorian for your thoughts and time on this topic that has many layers…

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Hi again, Ordinarysparrow.

    You bring up quite a few subjects and issues:

    Military awards and decorations and their purpose, the morality of using attack drones, the loss of life during terrorist attacks and retaliation for them, war in general and war itself, the use ( ethics, morality?) of the atomic bomb that many claim ended World War II, and probably many other sub-issues.

    I am flattered that you ask for my opinions, but it is getting late here and I hope you’ll allow me to answer bright-eyed and bushy-tailed tomorrow?

    In the meantime, if I have misunderstood or overlooked any issues, please let me know.


  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Good morning OS and thanks for your patience.

    1. On the general issue of using drones to target terrorists — and deploying them against enemy combatants or installations during combat is a related issue — let me just restate my honest opinion, and it is an opinion through which I don’ expect to change anyone else’s deep held convictions, nor an opinion with which I expect everyone, or anyone, to agree with:

    I personally support the judicious and minimal use of such drone attacks when the United States, its national security and its citizens are facing an imminent, credible and serious threat — and a threat that cannot be eliminated or minimized in a timely manner by any other means. However, I use the word “pros” cautiously and hesitantly because the killing of people without due process, judicial oversight and, in particular the unintentional killing of innocent “bystanders” — the so-called “collateral damage” — really has no “pros”. At best it is a necessary evil.


    I believe that drones can and should be used abroad to take out terrorist combatants, but only IF:

    – An individual poses a known, verifiable, clear and imminent threat to America and Americans (e.g. about to blow up an aircraft, launch a missile, blow up a U.S. consulate or embassy, launch an attack on U.S. soil, etc.)

    – The terrorist suspect cannot be apprehended and otherwise neutralized in a timely manner using other resources or means, or/and when the host government is non-existent (e.g. Somalia), cannot (e.g. Yemen) or will not (e.g. “many”) take action itself.

    – Everything possible is done to avoid or minimize collateral damage.

    I will now add, “And provided judicial oversight is exercised by a body similar to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, especially if Americans-turned-terrorists are involved.”

    2. On military awards and decorations in general and on the Distinguished Warfare Medal (DWM) in particular. As I mentioned, military awards and decorations are not intended to recognize and honor only “valor.” They also recognize and reward meritorious service, outstanding achievement and other acts or services which distinguish an individual or unit among those performing similar acts or services. They include things such as “marksmanship” and even “Good Conduct.” The DWM is intended to recognize “extraordinary achievement,” and, as most such medals, they will be the exception rather than the rule, [“The member’s actions must have resulted in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from comrades or from other persons in similar situations,”]Furthermore, it specifically excludes “valor.”

    There are other medals for that, and in excluding “valor” DOD apparently recognizes that skills and excellence in performance of one’s assigned duties are involved here — not “valor.” As I have also mentioned, I do not feel that this new medal ranks up there with medals such as the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    3. On war. Just like you and the vast majority of human beings, I abhor war. War should be the last resort, when attacked, to defend the Nation and its people. I have passionately opposed “unnecessary” wars such as the Iraq War. I don’t know what else to say on this subject. BTW, I don’t quite understand your:

    “Dorian isn’t part of the way we refrain and reduce war is through the loss of troops? The count goes up, the citizens begin to demand that the troops are brought home, and there is a withdraw from the war?”

    At first glance, I tend to totally disagree with you on this. Perhaps you can explain more.

    4. Finally on Dr. Oppenheimer, the brilliant nuclear physicist and, of course, on the “bomb” he helped develop. Volumes have been written on him, on the development and especially on the first use (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) of the atomic bomb by scholars and experts a thousand times better than me. What can I say except that perhaps the use of the bomb — albeit it so horrifically killed and injured thousands of innocents — brought to conclusion a horrible war and perhaps — I emphasize “perhaps” twice — prevented even more human beings from being killed.

    Finally, finally, I just notice that you have “commercial” and financial questions on “drones.” I’ll try to find you an article with info on this.

    Sorry for being long-winded.

  • “And although to the United States, a drone strike seems to have very little risk and very little pain, at the receiving end, it feels like war. Americans have got to understand that. If we were to use our technological capabilities carelessly…then we should not be upset when someone responds with their equivalent, which is a suicide bomb in Central Park, because that’s what they can respond with.”

    Gen. Stanley McChrystal (Ret.)

  • dduck

    What Stanley said.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks for the updates on the medals and what the soldiers are saying… that seems most important for us to listen to those with boots on the ground… thanks for the informative replies.

    “Dorian isn’t part of the way we refrain and reduce war is through the loss of troops? The count goes up, the citizens begin to demand that the troops are brought home, and there is a withdraw from the war?”

    It seems to me when U.S. citizens see the body bags from their beloved children, friends, and fellow citizens, there is a great pause for reflection on whether we should be investing in war. With drones we are not going to see our own blood, thus intensifying the damage we do and removing our impetus to withdraw based on our blood loss.

    Examples; Vietnam war withdraw was in large part due to the outcry of American citizens…not only did the U.S. government fail to win the hearts and minds of Vietnamese, the way we went about the war we failed to win the hearts and minds of the U.S. citizens.

    From my understanding the U.S. military tactics where powerful and brutal… One of our chief military tactics was to bomb and bomb and bomb, with the belief that bombing instills fear and destroys morale to those in opposition. I read that between 1969 and 1970 we dropped and average of 100,000 tonnes of bombs a month of South Vietnam. We used bombs and we dropped napalm and white phosphorus and agent orange, all of which are extremely dangerous and lethal to the general environment and the people of that country. Thousands upon thousands of Vietcong where captured and interrogated, creating even greater animosity. We targeted the villages, moved the people, burned their villages. Each act of power created more opposition and anti-Americanism. We failed to win the hearts and minds of the people, and in the process we create a much greater anti-American world view.

    The momentum to end the war by U.S. citizens grew, there were powerful protests that demanded withdraw based on the number of causalities, the lack of ethical war display by our country, as well as the cost of war left little faith … President Johnson ratings dropped, he chose not to run a second term, for he knew he could not be re-elected. Nixon wanted to end the war which was in line with the citizens that wanted the U.S. out of Vietnam. Therefore loss of life and cost were big determinants in withdraw. We did not win Vietnam, we withdrew.

    When it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan, have we won the hearts and minds of the people?…or have we created greater opposition to the U.S. practices of warfare? which are only amplified by the drones? When it comes to President GW and Cheney dealings in the war, once again the Republicans were voted out of office bringing in President Obama that promoted the end of the wars created and sustained by Bush/Cheney… due to lost of life, financial cost, and realizing the objectives are not attainable. It remains to be seen but in all likelihood have added to a greater anti-American sentiment. Once again when the hearts and minds are not won in their countries or ours, and it lead to withdraw of American troops that end war, and in a paradoxical way when we see the cost in life and limb, it reduces the overall count and casualty of war.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Thanks, OS.

      I see now what you mean by your statement, and I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that when Americans see “the body bags from their beloved children, friends, and fellow citizens, there is a great pause for reflection on whether we should be investing in war.”

      That is exactly why the Bush administration tried to hide this by banning the media from attending the return of our heroes home at Dover AFB and elsewhere, a shameful practice that president Obama put a stop to and finally allowed Americans to see our sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, friends, fellow Americans come home for the last time…

  • ordinarysparrow

    Dorian i know this discussion is long, i do not tend to be tiresome, but i am still going in circles with it…thanks for your patience

    I have a pedestrian view of war… My only direct experience of war environment was living in Rhodesia as it was moving to National rule and became Zimbabwe. It was a disturbing and dangerous time in that country. As an outsider i got to know intimately the struggles and aspirations of both sides. To this day, i cannot say, right or wrong, but rather it was a time and place where two very separate realities collided and demanded that one step down and allow the other to rise up. I hold it was the right thing without making wrong those that were defeated, yet the consequences for the citizens of Zimbabwe has been devastating and compared to the present U.S. military it was a war of sticks and stones. Only share this because it was an experience of neutrality that laid an imprint that in any war there a two competing realities and ideologies, that is relative based on which side one stands. I wish it was National policy for every college graduate to move to a country that opposes the U.S.; places like President GW Bush’s; “axis of evil” ,and live there among the people. When we can move from the positions of right and wrong, good guys and bad guys, enemy and alliances, then we begin to see the competing perceptions that lead to separate realities. Peace and goodwill can come from that. Something i am going to look up is the difference in our budget for State Department and the Department of Defense.

    As a U.S. citizen i sit physically untouched and safe from the direct impact of these wars and took in information that could be ill informed and one sided, this is mere opinion…The ones that go to war, the soldiers with boots in the war zones are the ones i feel have the greatest voice. If i could set a hierarchy of influence on these kinds of issues, both the medal and use of drones it would go like this as far as developing policy.

    1. The Soldiers with direct experience from war zones.
    2. The American People
    3. The President and Cabinet
    4. Politicians
    5 Military Branch leadership
    6. Commercial Military Complex

    Which is upside down from the reality of what is these days….all too often profit, power, nation prestige, are greater factors in considering war than people. (Both our own citizens and the innocent in countries we engage in war.)

    ” I personally support the judicious and minimal use of such drone attacks when the United States, its national security and its citizens are facing an imminent, credible and serious threat — and a threat that cannot be eliminated or minimized in a timely manner by any other means. However, I use the word “pros” cautiously and hesitantly because the killing of people without due process, judicial oversight and, in particular the unintentional killing of innocent “bystanders” — the so-called “collateral damage” — really has no “pros”. At best it is a necessary evil.”
    The Moderate Voice (

    Dorian i really do hear the above statement… am left with an open question, which we can only live into with time. Is the resistance to drone more or less idealistic than the belief that our country will use drones as your statement above implies?

    There are those that say peace, goodwill, cooperation between all Nations is the play of fools and children. Most of those that make room for war demean and minimize those that advocate for a greater consciousness within and among all people. ” Kumbaya” . “why can’t we just all get along” would be are small examples.

    I can turn that on them in a flash… War is the play of fools and children that are willing to settle for the easier path rather than do the hard work of peace, goodwill, and cooperation it takes to raise our consciousness above the most base. The off springs of war comes from our most base and animal nature. When we take our highly developed human brain to the battle field, such as drone technology, we do not move into that which is greater than our animal stirrings, but we move lower than them, for we become diabolical. Dorian we are upside down.

    Am going to share this from Persian Paradox blog, written by Massoumeh Ebtekar. She was the only woman Vice-President of Iran. Enjoy her blog post. She definitely has a strong Middle East slant which is anti-United States policy. I find it most interesting to read the perception of other countries towards us. Here she addresses the defense budgets across the world….

    We spend this much money on military, the path taken by the lower consciousness of man/woman and yet how much is spent on a Department of Peace?

    Defense Budgets in Today’s World

    Why are global politicians so intent on promoting arms sales and military expenditures? Why do we witness recurring and endless cases of war , armed conflict, ethnic strife and terrorism in today’s world? According to recent estimates global military expenditure stands at over $1.7 trillion in annual expenditure at current prices for 2011 (or $1.63 trillion dollars at constant 2010 prices), and has been rising in recent years. In the Swedish Institute for Peace Research Report SIPRI, once again authors have noted that:
    , “There is a large gap between what countries are prepared to allocate for military means to provide security and maintain their global and regional power status, on the one hand, and to alleviate poverty and promote economic development, on the other.”

    This money could save thousands on the verge of starvation and provide education and health care for millions of children throughout the world.
    Human civilization seems to have advanced in many areas during the recent centuries and this advancement has bought a luxurious or at least confortable life for some, but only at the expense of severe loss in the quality of life for others.
    Indeed, compare this military spending with the entire budget of the United Nations:

    The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $30 billion each year, or about $4 for each of the world’s inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is less than three percent of the world’s military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced financial difficulties and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas, even as new mandates have arisen. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN’s voluntary funds. As of December 31, 2010, members’ arrears to the Regular Budget topped $348 million, of which the US owed 80%.

    Military protection manpower per 1,000 people in North Korea in 2008 was 46, the highest in the world.
    The 15 countries with the highest spending account for over 81% of the total;
    The USA is responsible for 41 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the China (8.2% of world share), Russia (4.1%), UK and France (both 3.6%)

    The US government has a firm grip on its number one rank on military budget and spending in the world. While Americans and the global public opinion were told that 535.4 billion US dollars were spent in 2012 on defense , a report by Winslow Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight suggests that reported defense spending figures underestimate the overall cost of defense and national security programs by a mere 400 billion dollars in FY 2012.
    Probably the most interesting military-related budgetary gossip has been the practice of keeping the operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan separate from the main Pentagon budget, as if those costs should not count as much because they are , sort of temporary. There is, admittedly, a sense in which the Iraq War should not be counted as “defense” spending. The war was not an act of defense; it was offense. But that, of course, is not the reason for the practice (begun by the administration that launched the Iraq War) of separating costs of the war from the main defense budget. The reason had much more to do with wanting to understate the actual amount the United States spends on its military. Since high military expenditures are not justified in terms of public opinion within and out of the US. The US in not alone in this race, China, Russia and North Korea and NATO members are in the same category.
    Observers have shown how the true total cost of an endeavor such as the Iraq War goes far beyond what shows up in the federal budget and includes various secondary economic effects. A big part of the follow-on cost of recent wars is the long-term care of military veterans, especially grievously wounded ones. Such costs are proportionately greater than for previous wars. Due to modern body armor and a splendid military medical system, many who would have died in earlier conflicts instead survive—but they are still maimed by the incidents.
    War is a very painful and disastrous entity both for humanity but also for nature as well.
    Civil societies should engage in global campaigns to ask governments to stop the arms race and to start more responsible spending for health, education and employment thereby giving all humans the right they deserve to dignified livelihoods.

    Peace is a prerequisite to development and human advancement, the selfish excesses of a minority has led the world to instability and war.

    Dorian from every direction that i can see when it comes to war we are truly upside down in our ways and in our human consciousness…

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Hi OS,

      I have expressed my honest opinions on the drones issue, and I respect yours.

      I have expressed my honest opinions on war and wars — which are very similar to yours — and I respect the small differences we have.

      I share your respect for and empathy with our troops who have to do the actual fighting — and the dying. (As a 20-year military veteran, including during the Vietnam War when I lost some of my friends, I more than respect them)

      I also worry about how much we have to spend on weapons and defense. I also anguish about poverty and sheer misery not only around the world, but also here at home, and found your “Defense Budgets in Today’s World,” quite interesting.

      I appreciate your sharing of your experiences in Rhodesia and your views on that conflict.

      Finally, I just have to take a little bit of an exception — in a cordial way — with your statement,”As a U.S. citizen i sit physically untouched and safe from the direct impact of these wars…”, by saying that I have certainly been mentally anguished and troubled by our most recent wars and that many — especially the relatives and friends of the 3,000+ who perished on 9/11 — have been tremendously touched by that hostile act on our homeland.

      I appreciate this discussion, OS, and I’ll provide you some links to more expert discussions on military “drones.”

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks Elijah Tidbits for that quote from Stanley.

  • dduck

    DDW, to be precise, the ban was from 1991 and it was Bush 1, who I believe was and is, well respected. Whether it is a “shameful practice” that Obama put a “stop” to may be debatable.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist


    UAV Business Review has some pretty good “Coverage and Analysis of the Unmanned Systems Industry.” You can click here for them.

    If you still have specific questions, I’ll try to answer them or find the answers.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks Dorian, appreciate you writing on this topic and do not see you as a “Hawk” but as one that has a seasoned and wise opinion based on experience. Thanks for that…you are a honorable bridge between the military and civilian that helps translate and bring understanding.

    I tried to follow the above link and am getting this reply: Don’t know if it is me or the link? I think it comes from WordPress.


    There was a small systems error. Please try refreshing the page and if the error is still there drop us a note and let us know.

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks Dorian that link was informative and lead to a couple of other links, will share..

    Northrop Grumman’s Revolving Door with the Congress.

    As sequester near, Northrop Grumman looks and markets for new markets

  • dduck

    Thanks, DDW.

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