CONCORD, N.H. — Senators in northern New England are among a group of senators that has asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to lower the ranking of a new medal for cyber fighters.
By late Tuesday morning, Hagel ordered a review of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was to be awarded to troops who operate drones and use other technological skills to fight America's wars from afar.
Among the senators expressing concern in a letter Monday were Maine Sen. Angus King, New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte, and Vermont Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders. They serve on committees representing the armed services, veterans and homeland security.
The medal would have been ranked ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
The senators said combat awards are sacred, reflecting the special bravery of Americans who have been willing to sacrifice everything in the defense of the United States. They said combat awards should remain the military's highest honors.
"While cyber specialists and unmanned aerial vehicle pilots are obviously vital to our national defense, when recognizing their efforts we need to make sure we're not inadvertently diminishing the service of those directly in harm's way," Shaheen said.