Thursday, March 26, 2009

The military awards system is broken 
Why has the GWOT not produced a living Medal of Honor recipient?

Although numbers don’t tell the whole story, America’s 20th-century wars produced highly consistent rates of Medal of Honor heroism.

From World War I through Vietnam, the rate of Medal of Honor recipients per 100,000 service members stayed between 2.3 (Korea) and 2.9 (World War II). But since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only five Medals of Honor have been awarded, a rate of 0.1 per 100,000 — one in a million.

A similar disparity occurs on the second tier of valor awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross.

Throughout the 20th century, the rate of service cross recipients per 100,000 troops ranged from a low of 19 in Korea to a high of 167 in World War I.

But for the post-9/11 wars, it’s only one per 100,000.


Well, apparently, it's not a war. It's an Overseas Contingency Operation. And we're not fighting terrorists, anyway, but Man-Made Disaster Facilitators.

Splash, out


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Actually, I think the problem is more reflective of the yawning gap between civilians and the military. The lack of understanding and appreciation of the job the military performs coupled with the overload of over-the-top movies and video games has lead to a generation that deems the incredible actions of the "bravest of the brave" as nothing more than to be expected. In other words, you guys are supposed to fall on grenades or take sniper fire for your fellow soldiers/marines because that's what they do in the movies. And aren't the movies based on real life?

Seriously. I've actually heard that from people.
<<“I think we’re going to see more Medals of Honor,” he said. “I think [President Barack] Obama will push it.”>>

If the president (any president) is pushing for it, that's politicizing the award and will call into question why anyone receives it under his watch. It's best for the president to remain above this fray so recipients don't have their valor questioned due to inappropriate 'command influence'.

BTW, Tankerswife, well said.

I think this also dishonors those who were the recipients of and witnesses to the heroism of their comrade. Without clear and convincing evidence that the witnesses were lying, we have no business running a CSI forensic investigation to determine the exact nature of the wound of someone who jumped on a grenade. Heroism will not be served by xrays and blood spatter projections, but rather by the testimony of those who owe their lives to this man. Having read the accounts of Army Sgt. Cashe, and Marine Sgt. Peralta, I am astounded that neither was awarded the MOH. It's as if staffers at the Pentagon are saying "You gave your life to save others,...but, sorry, we need more."
Mark L.
I wonder what Hack would say.
The real question is how many have been nominated?
The LTC is correct. That statement from the Administration is enough to plant large amounts of doubt on the entire process.

I do believe the first commenter is on to something. It is "expected". I think that we have bought our own hype to some extent. Our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors are the best in the world. I know that our average is still better than most of the world's "Special", but that doesn't mean that everything is in the "line of duty".

Sgt. Smith was protecting his men. Yes he was protecting the aid station that was setup and it's evac. And yes, that is his job as a leader of Soldiers. He did his job to the next level...above and beyond is the catch phrase, and he gets the MoH.

Sgt. Peralta was doing his job as a Sargent of Marines. He was protecting Marines and it is no different. But no MoH. Same with SGM Kasal did the same thing. Went to protect Marines. But no MoH.

No consistency. But all three men did the same thing. They protected their men. Protected and executed their responsibilities. And yes, went above and beyond to do it. But that is what is expected in the United States Military. We make heroes. We breed them. And we should reward them when the consequences of War or Battle grant them the privilege to prove who they are.

I ask this because I haven't served in it: is the ground combat in this war as intense as ground combat in previous wars?

Given the the kind of tactics we use and the kind of tactics the enemy uses in this war, at least from what I can gather from blogs, I wonder if the shortage of Medal of Honors is due to a standard that was set in a different kind of war.

My exposure to the Medal of Honor was a tasking where I worked out of the Heritage Center in Yongsan, Korea, which is dedicated to Korean War MoH recipients. From what I could tell reading their award citations, most of the awardees should have died many times over during their acts of heroism, enduring multiple explosions, hand to hand combat wounds, shrapnel and bullets, before either succumbing to their wounds or surviving to fight another day. Just really horrible combat conditions.

Not to imply at all that war is easy for today's soldiers, but how often does the ground combat in this war reach the kind of combat conditions in which Medals of Honors were awarded in previous wars?
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