Entries in Drone (3)


New Military Award for Drone Pilots Draws Hill Protest

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon’s newest military honor, symbolized by a two-inch bronze medallion, has sparked fierce debate over the nation’s growing corps of drone pilots and cyberwarriors and how to commend their service, which happens far from an actual battlefield.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal, approved by then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month, is the military’s first new combat-related medal in nearly 70 years.  It is intended to recognize extraordinary contributions to combat operations by a service member from afar and will rank as the eighth highest individual award behind the Medal of Honor.

But placement of the new medal ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, which are given for valor in the line of fire, has created significant stir.

Critics have panned it as the “Chair-borne Medal,” “the Nintendo Medal,” “Distant Warfare Medal” and “the Purple Buttocks,” alluding to fact that computer-based warriors do their work from a chair, among other names.

Top veterans groups and a rare bipartisan alliance on Capitol Hill are intensely lobbying the Pentagon and President Obama to downgrade the award.

“We are supportive of recognizing and rewarding such extraordinary service, but in the absence of the service member exposing him or herself to imminent mortal danger, we cannot support the DWM taking precedence above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart,” a bipartisan group of 48 lawmakers wrote new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday.

“Possibility of death or grievous bodily harm” are key factors that should elevate recipients of those awards above others who didn’t face those risks, the group wrote.

The letter was penned by 34 Republicans and 14 Democrats, including Republican Reps. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Darrell Issa of California, and Democratic Reps. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Susan Davis of California.

Officials with the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars said they have already been pressing the administration to downgrade the award, saying that bestowing a higher-ranked medal to service members who fought from “behind a desk” is disrespectful to those serving in harm’s way.

So far, the administration has shown no sign of backing down.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Poll: Most Americans Approve of Obama's Military Tactics

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama is drawing strength from an unexpected area as he girds for his re-election campaign, benefiting from military and anti-terrorism policies that have been controversial in some quarters, but are broadly popular with the public overall.

Eighty-three percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Obama’s use of unmanned drones against terrorist suspects, 78 percent back the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 70 percent favor keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention center open -- the latter, a reversal by Obama from his 2008 campaign position in which he assailed the prison and vowed to close it.

Strength of sentiment also is very much on the positive side.  Strong approval far outpaces strong disapproval, by 55 points on drones (59-4 percent), 47 points on troop withdrawal (56-9 percent) and 29 points on keeping Gitmo running (42-13 percent).

Two-thirds in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also favor the use of unmanned drones specifically against American citizens in other countries who are terrorist suspects.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cheney Blasts Obama on Downed US Drone

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney blasted President Obama Monday for his handling of the downed U.S. drone in Iran, saying he should have destroyed the drone immediately to protect U.S. intelligence.

“The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it,” Cheney told Erin Burnett of CNN’s’ OutFront.

Cheney said the president had three options on his desk but rejected all of them. “They involved sending somebody in to try to recover it or, if you can’t do that, and admittedly that would be a difficult operation, he certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground with an air strike,” he said.

“But he didn’t take any of the options. He asked nicely for them to return it. And they aren’t going to do that,” Cheney said.

The president said Monday that the United States has asked for the drone back. “We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said.

Instead of returning the drone, Cheney said the Iranians will likely “send it back in pieces after they’ve gotten all the intelligence they can out of it.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio