Archive for February, 2013

Sequestration: Who’s To Blame?

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

sequestrationThere’s no doubt about it: If sequestration happens – and it is looking increasingly like it will, come March 1 – the across-the-board, indiscriminate spending cuts are going to have an impact on military families. We are already seeing it happen with the cancellation of the deployment of an entire carrier task force.

The National Military Family Association has published a useful corrective to dispel some of the myths surrounding sequestration and its effects. Meanwhile, the politicians and their toadies are working overtime as the deadline looms. No, not to solve the problem and come to a workable deal to avert it – but to make sure that the other side gets the blame.

So who is to blame for sequestration? The answer is clear: All of us.

For generations, Congressmen have been larding up the defense budget with non-essential programs. Senator Coburn has published a partial guide to the most egregious of stupid Pentagon expenses in his report, The Department of Everything.

And voters have tolerated it. In fact, we have encouraged it. We have repeatedly rewarded Congressmen who put their district interests over the mission by donating to them and reelecting them. This is true of both parties. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have a lock on them.

 

Who’s idea was it anyway?

Sequestration was Obama’s idea. Or, at least, the concept of using sequestration – on the theory that nobody wanted it – as an incentive for Congress to strike a deal was originated as a White House proposal. President Obama has recently said that sequestration “is not something that I have proposed.” This is a lie.

It was the White House staff – specifically Jack Lew, who concocted the idea as a way to give the Republicans a face-saving way out of the debt-ceiling impasse of 2011. Republicans had vowed not to vote to increase the debt limit – that is, the President’s legal authority to borrow money for the treasury – unless there were significant spending cuts. According to reporting by Bob Woodward, Lew went to the President for his blessing on the proposal – and he received it.

Obama is so distant from the sequester that he recently nominated the sequestration’s architect as his Treasury Department nominee. So either the President backed the idea and thought it good policy, or he is in the habit of promoting bad policymakers to cabinet-level positions.

At any rate, once Lew’s office, acting on behalf of the White House and with the President’s personal authority, presented sequestration to Congress, Republicans wasted no time voting for it. The vote among Republicans was 218 in favor, and 33 opposed. The measure passed by three votes, though not a single House Democrat voted in favor.

To put a finer point on it:

1.Sequestration was Obama’s proposal.

2. Once proposed, Republicans voted overwhelmingly, 218 to 33, in favor of the bill that contained sequestration.

3. All House 188 Democrats voted against it, except for 5 abstaining.

 

And once they did pass it, Obama promptly signed it. At that moment, it ceased to matter who first floated the proposal. All parties who voted for the Budget Control Act own it, lock, stock and barrel – as does the President whose signature the law bears.

At the time, only the House of Representatives was controlled by Republicans – fresh from a resounding Tea Party victory in 2010. The Senate and Presidency were in Democratic hands. Any one of these bodies could have prevented sequestration from taking effect – and none of them did.

For good or for ill, the effects of sequestration fall equally at the feet of the GOP controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But the plan also made it through the Senate, which Democrats control. And Obama doubled down on the plan in November 2011, when he vowed that he would veto any half-measures that would mitigate the negative effects of sequestration.

“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts,” said the President in a White House press conference. “My message to them is simple. NO. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off-ramps on this one.”

Moreover, the Democrat-controlled Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. Instead, they passed a series of continuing resolutions. There are tactical reasons for this: They would expose themselves to attacks from Republicans for any tax increases on one hand, and liberal interest groups for spending cuts on the other, with no compensation. No budget that passed a Democratic Senate would be likely to pass in the House. So they were content to sit on their hands and fire barbs at Paul Ryan – head of the House budget committee and the GOP nominee in 2012 for Vice President – for cutting grandma’s Medicare.

 

So why are the cuts so stupid?

The cuts are stupid because politics is stupid. Even Congress knows this, which is why they don’t even trust themselves with base closures. Instead, they create base closing commissions so they don’t have to make tough decisions.

But politics being what it is, the continuing resolutions tie the President’s hands, and the SECDEF’s hands. They cannot unilaterally decide to eliminate funding for stupid DoD programs, because Congress has specifically directed them to fund these particular programs. The SECDEF therefore has very limited authority to direct the transfer of funds from nonessential line items and redirect them to essential ones. This is why the DoD schools – bloated beyond belief with administrative staff, must furlough classroom teachers right along with desk jockeys in the head office.

That’s why the DoD cannot let its grass grow a little long in order to keep your post day care facility running at capacity. Military day care centers will have to cut back staffing and possibly send children home. Care provided will be slashed along with deferrable post maintenance funds. Civilian employees working providing care to sick and injured veterans will get furloughed right along with those who do nothing but manage spreadsheets.

And neither side is particularly interested in changing that. The President is more interested in ensuring Republicans get blamed for sequestration than in presenting plans that will allow him to move money around to prioritize spending.

House Minority Leader Calls on Secretary Shinseki for Plan to Improve VA Services

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

VA services improvement planIn an open letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, House Speaker John Boehner has detailed a list of failings by the VA under Secretary Eric K. Shinseki’s tenure, and requested a response to a series of questions on the VA’s plans to improve performance within the next 30 days.

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH), who also heads the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, is fed up with his contituents complaining about poor performance by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has called upon Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.

Citing an ‘alarmingly high’ backlog of unprocessed claims, Boehner made the following assertions:

  • The Cleveland VARO’s rating claims processing time is 334.2 days, as of February 15th, 2013. 
  • The current national average is 275.5 days
  • The VA has already publicly announced that they had a goal of reducing the VA rating processing time to 125 days by 2015.
  • The current nationwide average claim processing time is 272.5 days – an increase of 17.5 percent over the prior 13-month period.
  • For the Cleveland, Ohio processing center – notable because it is within Congressman Boehner’s district, wait times have actually increased by 34 percent over the past year.
  • The increase has come despite a substantial effort to modernize the Cleveland VA claims tracking and reporting system.
  • The total backlog of pending compensation claims has increased from 390,000 in 2009 to more than 821,000 today.
  • 71.5 percent of those claims have been pending for 125 days or more.
  • The VA error rate is 86.2 percent. The Secretary has announced a goal of 98 percent error free rate. Congresssman Bohner’s office calculates that this translates to about 400,000 claims having been mishandled or wrongly adjudicated on Shinseki’s watch.
  • There are currently 251,443 appeals pending, as of February 2013.

For its part, the Veterans Administration has been hit with a tsunami of claims. Nearly half of all Iraq War veterans are presenting to the VA with some issue or other. At the same time, the Viet Nam generation of veterans has entered its peak years of health care consumption. The Veterans Administration noted that it has successfully increased its throughput, processing record numbers of claims each year for the last three fiscal yearswith over a million cases resolved in each of those years. Congressman Boehner, however, points out that with an error rate of 13 percent, that creates a different problem of hundreds of thousands of cases cluttering the appeals process – and veterans waiting for their promised benefits.

The VA is also struggling with some front-end problems: Only 3 percent of claims are submitted “fully developed,” according to Tommy Sowers, the VA’s Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. 

The VA has also created a blog, VAntage Point, to improve its image among veterans and the public at large. 

Pentagon to Military Order of the Purple Heart: Drop Dead

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Distinguished Warfare MedalThe Distinguished Warfare Medal, the controversial medal designed for drone pilots, cyber warriors and other rear-echelon troops who accomplish notable achievements will retain its place in the order of precedence, according to a Pentagon release.

The Secretary of Defense announced that the new medal would be ranked higher than the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart – a move that sparked outrage from a number of troops and from the Military Order of the Purple Heart – a prominent advocacy association representing servicemembers who have received the award. The MOPH released a statement last week stating that they were adamantly opposed to the decision, which they found was “insulting and degrading” to their members – all of whom have shed blood in combat for the country as members of the Armed Forces of the United States. 

The decision also met with a groundswell of opposition from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as criticism from within the ranks, judging by the reactions of servicemembers to the story on military news Websites reporting on the new medal.

To be eligible to receive the award, a service member has to have direct, hands-on employment, such as an unmanned aerial vehicle operator dropping a bomb or a cyber specialist detecting and fending off a computer network attack, according to the Pentagon. The award is for specific actions affecting combat operations, and may not be used as an end-of-tour award. 

Senate Minority Leader Falls for Fake Story from DuffelBlog

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Sen Mitch McConnellSenator Mitch McConnell, the ranking Republican Senator and Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky, has fallen for a fake news story from the satirical news website, DuffelBlog.com.

Rest easy, America.

On November 14, 2012, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote to Elizabeth King, the Pentagon’s congressional liaison, with an unusually credulous query. “I am writing on behalf of a constituent who has contacted me regarding Guantanamo Bay prisoners receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” McConnell wrote in a letter acquired by Danger Room. “I would appreciate your review and response to my constituent’s concerns.”

McConnell’s staffers forgot who the Pentagon works for these days: The Obama Administration. And so Elizabeth King’s office gleefully leaked the letter to the media. 

DuffelBlog is a humor website that features headlines like Former E-1 Hired as Military Consultant on New Action Film and Change of Command Ceremony Dissolves into Giant Orgy. Both stories are obviously satirical – although in fairness to the last story we wouldn’t put anything past rear echelon troops and fobbits in any deployment post-2008.

The McConnell constituent provided his office a link to the story, and asked McConnell’s office to “confirm or refute the accuracy of this story.”

In response, the Pentagon asked McConnell’s staffer to go down the hall and ask the Deputy Undersecretary for Reserve Affairs to sign out the range fans and a couple of bottles of halogen fluid. According to McConnell’s office, four months after the incident, the mission is still in progress.

Emails to Senator McConnell’s office asking if sequestration would have any effect on the chronic shortage of chem light batteries and bulk shipments of grid squares to the troops were not immediately returned.

Sequestration Would Devastate Army Brigade Combat Team Training and Maintenance Budgets

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

describe the imageHigh-tech weapons systems have Congressional constituencies and highly-paid corporate lobbyists with big budgets. They make campaign contributions big enough to put politicians in or out of business – and big enough to fund primary challengers if the incumbent politician doesn’t play ball.

Training, maintenance and spare parts budgets? Not so much.

And so the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act – should they come to fruition – will fall heavily on Army BCT training and readiness budgets. The axe will cleave the 2nd tier units most deeply: That is, those not facing imminent deployments to Afghanistan or Korea.

Defense News – a Gannett publication and sister publication to Military Times, recently obtained an internal Army memo detailing the expected impact of sequestration on the backbone of the combat power of the Army: The brigade combat team.

Among the Army’s projections:

  • The budget for Active Component Operation and Maintenance, Army (OMA) is already $6 billion less than their projected requirements, even without sequestration.
  • If sequestration goes into effect, there will be an additional shortfall of $5.3 billion.
  • Together with a separate budget category – Emerging Overseas Contingency Operations Requirements, the Army is expecting a shortfall for OMA of up to 18.3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2013 – which will have substantial spillover effects through 2014 and even longer.
  • All 251,000 Army civilian employees could receive furloughs – unpaid leave – of up to 22 days.
  • Cumulative budget reductions will “distress and shock” Army installations and their surrounding communities with wide-scale reduction of support contracts.
  • All non-deploying or non-forward-stationed units (with the exception of one BCT will incur a delay of several months for training required under COCOM standards. 

The memo stated that “Shortfalls of this size, this far into the year, when some of our budget is already spent, will potentially impact 90 percent of remaining OMA funds – immediately eroding readiness, leaving the army with fully-trained unit only for OEF, rotations to Korea and the Global Response Force Brigade Combat Team.”

Specific Actions

  • The Army has already provided layoff notices to 1,300 temporary workers. An Army-wide freeze on civilian hiring is in effect.
  • Civilian employees will lose approximately 20 percent of pay.
  • The Army will halt post-combat repair and maintenance for 1,300 vehicles, 14,000 communication devices and 17,000 weapons.
  • If sequestration occurs, the Army will lay off 5,000 contract maintenance employees. Mostly in Alabama, Texas and Georgia.
  • Collective training at TO&E units will focus on squad and platoon level. Resources will not generally be available to train companies or battalions on collective tasks except for those deploying.
  • Four of the six currently scheduled brigade and battalion-level rotations to JRTC and the National Training Center will be canceled.
  • The Army will postpone individual training for 513 aviators, 4,000 military intelligence soldiers, and will cancel 15 field artillery training courses. Combat aviation brigades will be significantly eroded. 
  • All restoration and modernization projects will be cancelled. Facility sustainment will be reduced from 90 percent to 37 percent.
  • Procurement programs across the board will reduce orders by 10 to 15 percent. This will affect 1,000 different companies in over 40 states.

The memo comes just after the Navy announced that it is cancelling the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman and its carrier battlegroup because of budget uncertainties. The job losses are not unexpected, but will not be welcome news to the Army community.

In leaking this memo, the Army may be seeking to rally public pressure on Congressional representatives to forge a compromise to avoid the more draconian provisions of the Budget Control Act. However, at least some significant budget reductions is almost certain at this point, barring a major international development.

Pattonisms

Posted by Kelli McKinney

General George S PattonGeneral George S. Patton Jr. is widely considered one of the greatest – if not the greatest – American military leaders of all time. His story, and all its intricate nuances, is one that is well familiar to most military members, history buffs, and even war film fanatics.

Patton began his military education at West Point, led cavalry troops against Mexican forces, and was a member of the (then new) Army Tank Corps in WWI. He led the U.S. 7th Army invasion of Sicily and traversed northern France as the head of the 3rd Army during WWII. In 1944, Patton’s forces were an integral part of defeating the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge. After the Battle of the Bulge, Patton took his forces across the Rhine River into Germany, freeing the country from the Nazi regime.

After such stalwart demonstrations of courage and fortitude, in December, 1945 General Patton met an unexpected defeat. He died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Germany, which many people believe was actually an assassination.

Although he has been gone nearly seven decades, his colorful, succinct words of wisdom live on and have inspired generations. Here are just a handful of our favorite “Pattonisms”.

By perseverance, study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.

Do more than is required of you.

Good tactics can save even the worst strategy. Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy.

I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.

It’s the unconquerable soul of man, not the nature of the weapon he uses, that insures victory.

Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.

Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.

Always do everything you ask of those you command.

My men can eat their belts, but my tanks have got to have gas.


What are some of your favorite “Pattonisms?” If he were here today, what do you think he’d have to say about the state of America’s military? Share your thoughts with us below.

First Same-Sex Spouse Burial at a National Cemetery Approved

Posted by S.E. Davidson Parker

First same-sex VA burialOn January 29th, 2013, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki approved the first ever same-sex spouse burial at a national cemetery. Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Linda Campbell will now be able to intern the ashes of her spouse, Nancy Lynchild, who died of metastatic breast cancer on December 22nd, 2012, at the Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon. Services are being planned.

Shinseki’s approval comes on the heels of Department of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement to extend several benefits to same-sex spouses of military members. Benefits that were not extended to same-sex couples were housing allowances, on-base housing, health care, and burial benefits. Campbell had actually requested a waiver from Shinseki for burial benefits in May 2012 when making burial plans with Lynchild, and then again shortly after Lynchild’s death in December 2012, both dates before Panetta’s announcement.

Congress struck down the years-long policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” regarding the sexual orientation of military members in 2010. However, this policy only applied to the Department of Defense and not the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines a marriage as between one man and one woman, is still federal law.

Campbell was active duty Air Force for four years, followed by many years in the Oregon Air National Guard then the Air Force Reserves, where she retired in 1994. She and Lynchild had tried on several occasions to legalize their twenty-plus year relationship, including registering as domestic partners twice, marrying in Multnomah County, Oregon in 2004, and marrying again in Vancouver, B.C. in 2010.

Campbell had two advocates assisting her in the push for burial benefits; Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Commissioner of Labor and Industry, and Senator Jeff Merkley. Nonveteran same-sex spouses cannot be buried in a national cemetery as long as DOMA stands. However, Avakian found a small portion of Section 6 of the laws regarding burial that states burial in a national cemetery can happen with “such other persons or classes of persons as may be designated by the Secretary.” Both Senator Merkley and Commissioner Avakian wrote multiple letters to the Veterans Affairs Offices, advocating for such a “designation by the Secretary.” In addition, Avakian’s office believed the policy was in violation of civil rights laws and was planning to challenge the policy in court should the burial not be approved.

Shinseki approved Lynchild’s burial based “in part, on evidence of a committed relationship between the veteran and the individual.”

Nancy Lynchild’s ashes will be interned with the ashes of Joyce and Gordon Campbell, Linda’s parents. There is one spot left at the site, reserved for Linda.

GAO: VA Reported Wait Times are Unreliable

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

VA CentersThe Veterans Administration has not been reporting reliable data to Congress regarding wait times for outpatient treatment. This was the conclusion of a recent study by the Government Accounting Office. The GAO also found that there was inconsistent implementation of certain elements of VHA’s scheduling policy that could result in increased wait times or delays in scheduling timely medical appointments.

The GAO visited several Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country, and found significant compliance problems with the appointment wait time reporting process. Several VAMCs did not ensure staffers completed required training on the appointment setting process.

At every center they visited, GAO inspectors found at least one staffer who was recording the patient’s desired appointment date incorrectly. Additionally, investigators found that staffers were actually able to change a record of a requested appointment date – in order to show a number that would meet the VA’s stated policy objectives. The result is a significant skewing of appointment time data.

The bottom line: As bad as the wait time numbers coming out of the VA these days looks, the reality is even worse. 

In addition, the GAO found that several clinics they studied were not using the electronic wait list to schedule appointments – which created an elevated risk that some patients would “fall through the cracks.”

The GAO also cited these factors impeding VA mission success: 

  • An antiquated scheduling system, VistA, which is over 25 years old, slow and cumbersome. 
  • Gaps in scheduler staffing.
  • Lack of staff dedicated to answering phones. 

The recent increase in suicides among veterans has put the VA under greater scrutiny. The GAO survey did not specifically focus on mental health care facilities and appointment wait times, but described the VA scheduling problems as “pervasive.”

VHA officials have expressed an ongoing commitment to providing veterans with timely access to medical appointments and have reported continued improvements in achieving this goal,” the GAO report stated. However, it concluded, “Unreliable wait time measurement has resulted in a discrepancy between the positive wait time performance VA has reported and veterans’ actual experiences.”

 

VA Modernization Effort Failing to Reduce Claims Processing Times

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

describe the imageDespite a massive effort to convert the Department of Veterans Affairs to a modernized, Web-based claims processing system, the VA has thus far failed to reduce wait times. In fact, they have actually made the claims process more difficult.

This was the finding of an internal investigation by the Inspector General’s office of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The IG published his report, Review of Transition to a Paperless Claims Processing Environment, earlier this month.

The VA’s goals were laudable: They intended for their massive transformation system to improve their claims processing throughput by 40 to 65 percent, while reducing their error rate. A key part of the transition was the adoption of their new Web-based automated claims processing software, VBMS.

The report faulted the VA for a failure to come up with a detailed plan for modernization or think through the system requirements. This poor planning, in combination with an incremental approach under the Agile system of software development, means that the Veterans Benefits Administration will continue to face significant problems.

Among the Inspector General’s findings:

  • The Veterans Benefits Administration’s efforts to scan and digitize veterans’ claims have not been built from a detailed plan and analysis of requirements.
  • Users stated that developers did not visit the pilot sites for the first time until August 2012 to understand their business needs and system functionality requirements.
  • Users indicated that test scenarios were not realistic because functionality in the test environments did not replicate functionality in the production environment.
  • Test cases did not process claims end-to-end within VBMS.
  • While it took approximately 4 minutes to establish a claim with multiple contentions—contentions are veterans’ disabilities or health issues—in the legacy systems, it took approximately 18 minutes to establish the same claim in the VBMS pilot system.
  • VBMS performance issues caused some documents to take 3 to 4 minutes or longer to open. On numerous occasions, inefficient system use of memory caused the system to crash and users had to reboot after opening multiple documents.
  • VBMS-generated Veterans Claims Assistance Act letters contained errors and spacing issues and did not provide capabilities to edit or modify the documents. System users complained these letters often contained the wrong VARO addresses and VBMS did not provide the capability to make the necessary corrections.
  • Ratings calculators had been deployed. However, because the calculators were not functioning properly, they were disabled and therefore not used to support disability claims determinations. A Rating Veterans Service Representative disclosed that rating an average claim in VBMS typically took 1hour in the legacy systems, but required 2 or more hours in VBMS.
  • VA began scanning and digitizing veterans’ claims before it had a detailed plan and analysis of requirements for automating claims intake.
  • VA proceeded with claims scanning and digitizing without a detailed plan outlining what this process would entail.
  • Because a methodology was not well planned, VA encountered issues in scanning and digitizing claims folders to support the VBMS pilots. Specifically, the eFolders used to store the scanned images were disorganized and VA did not ensure proper management of hard copy claims folders.

Also, the IG’s office noted that as of September 2012, it was still not possible to complete a claim entirely using the VBMS system ‘end to end.’ This is, in part, due to the Agile approach to software development and project management, which brings the system to completion gradually, in stages.

According to the VA’s own data, average processing times actually increased at the VA claims centers designated as test sites for the VBMS rollout. The Fort Harrison facility reported an increase from 78 days to 125.6 days in the amount of time it took to process a pending disability claim during the test period, from October 2011 (pre-VBMS) to September 2012 (post VBMS). The Wichita facility reported an increase of 159.2 to 172.3 days.

Data for the other two Beta sites, Salt Lake City and Providence, RI, were not yet available for comparison, according to the report.

The Top 10 Reactions to the DoD’s New “Distinguished Warfare Medal” From Around the Web

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

Top 10 DoD reactionsLast week, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the military was rolling out a new medal, the Distinguished Warfare Medal, designed to recognize outstanding achievement by those involved in drone operations, cyber-warfare, and the like. The Pentagon announced that the new medal would rank below the Silver Star, but above the Bronze Star Medal, even with “V” device, and the Purple Heart.

Reactions from around the web were entertaining and colorful, to say the least – and were nearly uniformly incredulous or condemnatory.

While many agreed we should be recognizing the contributions of rear-echelon troops doing a good job, there were no defenders of the decision to place the award above the BSM and Purple Heart in the OML. Not one.

Here are the top 10 reactions to the DWM from bloggers and commenters around the Web.

10. “Hmmmm, I ain’t a sneaky pete operator or nothing like that.

But to me it does kinda sting a little and make my 250+ mission days “Outside the wire” running all around Sadr City then Najaf and Diwaniya doing a job and shouldering the responsibility 2 ranks above what I was wearing seem a little less important.”  —“ShitPile”

9. “So this new medal for sitting in an OPS center at some undisclosed location will be higher than that?  Higher than the Bronze Star that a PFC at a remote COP might be awarded for taking charge of his mortar team during a patrol and providing accurate fires on the enemy after his team leader was wounded?  Higher than a Bronze Star awarded to a Buck Sergeant, who after being deployed for 7 months, is working 3 levels higher as the Company First Sergeant in his section because of combat attrition?  No disrespect to the Predator driver and missile shooter; you guys are an important component in the battles we fight, but I could get my work done in the ‘Stan without them.  They are doing a job that can be done wearing flip-flops while eating take out. The only thing funnier than giving this award would be seeing this medal awarded to the awardees standing at attention in their flight suits.

There are alot of medals for achievement, I don’t think we need one that would rank higher than a Bronze Star for the ‘‘extraordinary achievement’’ of pressing the “FIRE” button on your Predator Drone flight control to launch a missile that is going to ride a laser beam being painted on a target by a TAC-P that is just as dirty, sleep deprived and smelly as the platoon of infantry in the fight around him; who are actually and life threateningly engaged with the enemy.

And if you are thinking “Deebow, why are you so upset about this?  Don’t you want to recognize the contributions that these people have made to the GWOT?”

Ask me that after you read my Bronze Star citation…”  —Deebow

8. “Well, those in the military know what an award really means, so I have no doubt that this cereal-box prize will find its proper level of merit in the minds of those who matter.”  —Pubius

7.  “As one that earned the Bronze Star w/Valor I believe everytime you see someone wearing this POS medal just pop him or her in the chops. Won’t take long for it to go into the bottom drawer.” – James Smith, Ret. E-7, USAF

6.” All of a sudden my bsm just does’nt seem as important. i kinda feel like doing a john kerry and throwing it at the white house.” —bobdacat

5. “I fail to see why any combat medal is even being comtemplated. If they feel bad about the job, get counseling or get out – it’s the military, not car insurance sales.”  —dorotheab

4. “Was this the brainchild of some Chairborne Ranger fornicating with the Good Idea Fairy?” –Scott Allen Lachut

3. “Will it be virtually awarded to their avatar?” — 68W58

2. “This is a massive insult to all soldiers who EARNED their Bronze Star medal. What a slap in the face.”  —Justin Lawson, Fairfield, CT

…And the number one reaction to the Pentagon’s new Distinguished Warfare Medal is:

1. “Wow! For a second I thought I was reading the Duffelblog!”Stephen Murga, Miami, Florida

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