Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Jan. 7 will direct the services to review every service cross and Silver Star award since Sept. 11, 2001, for a possible upgrade as part of a broad review of the Defense Department’s awards process. The review includes more than 100 service crosses, including nine Air Force Crosses, for a possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor. The review process began under the direction of former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014. A senior defense official, speaking with reporters on background on Jan. 6, said no specific case brought about the review and the reviews directed by the Secretary are not related to the Air Force’s decision to review recent Air Force Crosses for a Medal of Honor upgrade. The Air Force is the only service to not have a Medal of Honor recipient since Sept. 11, 2001. Reviews are to be completed by Sept. 30, 2017. In addition, the Pentagon will attempt to improve the timeliness of the awarding of the Medal of Honor through new guidelines. This includes mandating that nominations for valor awards be initiated within 45 days of valorous action, processed through the chain of command so it reaches the Defense Secretary within 12 months, and the award of the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, or other valor awards should be made within 12 months of the process beginning, according to a Pentagon announcement to be released Thursday.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.