Do Drone Pilots Deserve Medals?

Do Drone Pilots Deserve Medals?

Today, almost all combat medals are reserved for people in actual warzones. But bad guys in those warzones are increasingly being killed by people far, far, far away. Should it matter where in the world a trigger finger sits?

The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon is “considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield”, with several medal designs already completed.

The prospect of a drone medal could be contentious. The pilots themselves are ferociously defensive about their work, bristling at any comparison to video games or armchair warfare. They are, after all, potentially risking the lives of real people, just like any other air force pilot — even if it’s by pressing a button in the middle of an air-conditioned building on the other side of the world. Drone warfare requires the will to take a human life with a high degree of precision and technical skill.

But is killing all a medal is about? What makes warfare distinguished? “Heroism”, however vague, almost always involves some chance of being blown to bits yourself — even high-altitude bombers could crash. The most mortal danger a remote drone pilot likely faces is from their commute home.

So are missiles just missiles, no matter where the pilot sits? Should everyone get the same medal? [Washington Post]