DOD Creates New “Remote” Award Device

The Defense Department is creating new devices for military awards to further clarify how a service member contributed to the fight, including creating an “R” device for remote operations, the Pentagon will announce Jan. 7. The “R” ?device will be awarded to a service member who uses “remote technology” to directly impact combat operations, according to a Pentagon announcement to be released Thursday. A senior defense official, speaking to reporters on background before the announcement, said the device will be for service members who, through a specific, direct, and hands-on action, immediately influenced a battle. The device will be included on meritorious service awards to show that the action was related to combat, but the service member was not in danger at the time, the defense official said. While currently the device will largely focus on remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators, officials said the criteria is written to include any future technology that could directly impact a battle remotely. The Pentagon is also creating a “C” device for awards to recognize members that performed meritoriously in combat. This will be separate from the current “V” device, which is specifically awarded for valorous actions in combat. The changes come from a review initiated by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014. A team of experts solicited input from veterans groups, experts inside the Defense Department, and through 750 service members in 37 focus groups at 10 installations, which included Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve members, the defense official said.