The Air Force is updating its awards to recognize drone pilots and hackers
US airmen tasked with jobs like surveillance and cyber operations have a growing role on the battlefield, even though they are often physically distant from it.
To ensure that kind of work is recognized, the Air Force has introduced new hardware for its service men and women.
“As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows,” Defense Department officials said in a memo published on January 7, 2016.
Now the Air Force has released criteria for new devices that signify different roles in military awards: “V” for valor, “C” for combat, and “R” for remote.
The “R” device “was established to distinguish that an award was earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat or military operation,” the Air Force said in a release.
This refers to work done anywhere, as long as it doesn’t expose the service member to personal danger or put them at significant risk of personal danger. The new device would recognize the actions of drone pilots, cyber operators, and other airmen carrying out combat operations far from the battlefield.
“These members create direct combat effects that lead to strategic outcomes and deliver lethal force, while physically located outside the combat area,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services.
The “V” device denotes “unambiguous and distinctive recognition of distinguished acts of combat heroism,” while the “C” device was created to award airmen and women who perform “meritoriously under the most difficult combat conditions.”
While the devices were unveiled this week, they can be rewarded retroactively to January 2016, when the defense secretary established them.
The US military’s increasingly reliance on drones has created more demand for drone operators.
The service, which is straining under a personnel shortage, has introduced a new tiered bonus system to retain personnel, and drone pilots were among those in highest demand.
They, along with fighter pilots, are slated to get the highest maximum bonus of $35,000 a year.
Despite their distance from the battlefield, drone pilots’ duties in US campaigns throughout the Middle East and elsewhere has put them under some of the same strain faced by personnel who are forward deployed.
A 2013 study by researchers with the Defense Department found that drone pilots faced mental-health issues like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as those who flew manned aircraft over places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
- This is the Marine Corps' first female infantry officer
- Russia just finished the Zapad military exercises that freaked out NATO — Here's what we know
- North Korea calls Trump's tweets a declaration of war, threatens to shoot down US bombers
- SOLDIERS SPEAK OUT ON KAEPERNICK: His protest 'makes him more American than anyone'
- A former Green Beret who comes from a military family lays out why he supports football players kneeling during the national anthem
- The Feds are looking into some suspicious Equifax trades (EFX)
Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter .
These are the contenders flying off to replace the A-10
Four planes are flying off for the chance to try to replace the beloved A-10 Thunderbolt. Here's how they hold up.
This was a major problem with the South Vietnamese army
"Be glad to trade you some ARVN rifles. Ain't never been fired and only dropped once." — Cowboy from "Full Metal Jacket."
9 reasons why you should have joined the Army instead
The only down side is knowing that when you get out, you will never be as cool as you were when you were doing "Hooah things" with your boys.
7 things all troops should know before becoming a sniper
With Hollywood tapping into the sniper lifestyle with films like "American Sniper," many young troops get a misconception what it's like to be one.
The first home-built Japanese supersonic fighter was a ship-killer
The Mitsubishi F-1 was designed to carry out the maritime strike mission, but also could carry AIM-9 Sidewinders.
This is why Bowe Bergdahl says he plead guilty
US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive by the Taliban for five years after walking off his post in Afghanistan, is expected to plead guilty.
Say hello to America's newest 40mm grenade machine gun
The Mk-47 Mod 0 Advanced Grenade Launcher takes the auto 40 mike-mike to a whole new level.
10 craptastic Halloween costumes completely out of regulations
It's that time of year again! Halloween parties are being planned and folks who wouldn't hack it in the real military pick up cheap ass costumes.
This is how one man tried to end slavery all by himself
John Brown believed in American freedom but didn't trust democracy to guarantee it for all. His failed slave revolt was the opening salvo of the Civil War.