The Washington Post reports on the Pentagon’s consideration to award drone pilots medals for “bravery”.
Pentagon officials have been briefed on the medal’s “unique concept,” Charles V. Mugno, head of the Army Institute of Heraldry, told a recent meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts, according to a report in Coin World by our former colleague Bill McAllister.
Mugno said most combat decorations require “boots on the ground” in a combat zone, but he noted that “emerging technologies” such as drones and cyber combat missions are now handled by troops far removed from combat. The Pentagon has not formally endorsed the medal, but Mugno’s institute has completed six alternate designs for commission approval.
The drone has become the signature weapon in the Obama administration’s “war on terror”, and is the technology of choice for the Endless War against Islamic militants across the planet–from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia.
They have attracted wide criticism for their so-called “video game” aesthetic.
As drone pilot Lt. Col. Matt Martin recounts in his book Predator, operating a drone is “almost like playing the computer game Civilization“ – something straight out of “a sci-fi novel.” After one mission, in which he navigated a drone to target a technical college being occupied by insurgents in Iraq, Martin felt “electrified” and “adrenalized,” exulting that “we had shot the technical college full of holes, destroying large portions of it and killing only God knew how many people.“ Only later did the reality of what he had done sink in. “I had yet to realize the horror,” Martin recalls.