To this administration, nothing is above political meddling (or is that medaling?): Medals Couple Two Conflicts (washingtonpost.com) reports that not only is the administration trying to lump the Afghanistan and Iraq wars under a single global 'war against terrorism' rubric for the purpose of campaign medals — a break with tradition — but that it also wants the backroom armchair warriors in that 'war' to be able to get the same medal as people who got shot at.
“The decision not to issue separate medals seems to be the work of people who do not appreciate the importance of the values that help form a strong military culture,” added retired Army Col. John Antal, a former tank commander, who edits a magazine devoted to military history. “Politicians should be very careful when they tinker with the system that reinforces the critical values that help make our military the most capable in the world.”
But Pentagon officials say the issue is closed.
President Bush's authorization of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, they say, is appropriate, given the nature of the worldwide battle against terrorists and in terms of precedent in previous conflicts.
Bush also authorized creation of the Global War on Terrorism Service Medalto recognize those who provided support in the conflict from outside the theater of operations and those who participated in operations to protect the homeland, called Operation Noble Eagle.
The defense official said there is ample precedent for awarding soldiers a single medal “for their contributions in many different locations,” citing a single decoration, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, for operations associated with the 1991 Gulf War and its aftermath. The official also cited the campaign medals awarded for service in either the Pacific or European theaters of operation in World War II, not service in particular countries. That level of service was instead denoted by individual bronze stars worn on the theater ribbon for service in particular campaigns.
Similarly, commanders in the global war on terrorism, the official said, will be authorized “to award individual battle stars for those who participate in particular combat engagements.”
But Antal said the World War II precedent does not support a single decoration for the global war on terrorism. “Imagine how silly it would have appeared in World War II,” he said, “if we did not issue European Theater of Operations and Pacific Theater of Operations ribbons but instead issued a generic 'war against fascism medal.' “