- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Pentagon will review over 1,100 medals issued since the 9/11 terror attacks for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor, the country’s highest award for valor in combat.

The review, revealed in documents obtained by USA Today, stems from a study of military decorations and awards ordered in March by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “to ensure that after 13 years of combat the awards system appropriately recognized the service, sacrifices and action of our service members.”

The massive review, ordered by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, marks one of the biggest steps in decades to honor troops who have gone above and beyond in combat.

Should even a fraction of the troops reviewed be eligible for upgrade, it’s possible that dozens could receive the Medal of Honor for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon has been criticized for its complicated, bureaucratic process for awarding the Medal of Honor, such a review could result in the recognition of dozens of troops who did not make it past multiple layers of red tape to receive the award.

In addition to the review, Mr. Carter has also approved several other recommendations, including:

• A new award for troops who have directed drones over battlefields in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The “R” device would be awarded to “recognize remote impacts on combat operations.”

• Establishing a standard definition for meritorious service that limits combat awards to those exposed to hostile action or at “significant risk” of exposure.

• Setting goals and guidelines to ensure Medal of Honor and other awards are made in a timely way.

But the proposal to review service awards for potential upgrades to the Medal of Honor could prove the most controversial. Of the 37 recommendations, it was the only one not to reached by a consensus, USA Today reported.

The review would require the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy to reexamine each of the Service Cross and Silver Star nominations they have awarded since 9/11. The Army alone has awarded 718 Silver Stars.

In a memo, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus noted that such a review “may have a long-term detrimental impact on our service culture and our awards program,” USA Today reported.

He also noted that the Pentagon certified in 2010 that the services’ Medal of Honor “processes and standards were sound.”

Seventeen Medals of Honor have been awarded since 2001. Four were for service in Iraq, while 13 were for Afghanistan. All four medals for Iran were posthumously awarded.

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