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Are there Less Heroes in Iraq than in other Wars?

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posted on Dec, 17 2006 @ 11:02 PM
Here's an article that did some interesting research to show that there is a huge disparity in the number of medals given out to soldiers in WW 2, Korea/Vietnam and Iraq.

Are there fewer heroes in the Iraq war than in previous wars? That's the message the Pentagon is sending, say critics, by not awarding today's soldiers nearly as many of the nation's highest military honors. Three and a half years of combat in Iraq, for example, have produced only two winners of the Medal of Honor, the country's highest military award for bravery in combat. There were, by contrast, 464 Medals of Honor handed out during America's involvement in World War II, which lasted the same amount of time. If the government had been as stingy then as it is now, adjusting for the number of Americans who served, there would have been only 30 Medals of Honor won in the fight against fascism. The same applies to the second highest honor, the service crosses: there were 8,716 of those given out during World War II and just 26 so far in Iraq.

So what's different in this war? For one thing, the process for getting medals has become more cumbersome. Some commanders are reacting against what they see as medal inflation in recent wars, especially Gulf War I. And there may be fewer opportunities for Audie Murphy--style heroics when your enemy is planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or driving a car bomb. But the nearly 3,000 war dead testify to the peril of those fighting in Iraq, and a growing chorus has been speaking out against the Pentagon's parsimony. They're asking why there have not been more élite medals and why there have been huge disparities in the number of awards given by different branches of the military. "We need to look into the criteria used and the timing. There are obvious inequities," says Congressman John McHugh, a Republican from New York.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel that McHugh chairs is launching an inquiry this week into the way medals have been awarded in Iraq. The Department of Defense may be required to issue new standards or even reopen cases in which medals have been turned down or downgraded. The Pentagon, meanwhile, says it needed its own review to consider how combat--and how the military quantifies heroism--has changed since 9/11. It is considering whether there should be new guidelines set for consistency across the services. The Army, for example, has displayed a stunning generosity in handing out the mid-level Bronze Star medals: it has given out an astonishing 52,000 since 9/11, compared with fewer than 1,500 for the Marines.

It's interesting to note the large disparity in the number of medals given out by each individual armed force. I wonder how the number of medals given out compare to the total # of troops each armed force has in the region right now.

I'm wondering if the current administration is hesitant to hand out these medals because that would validate alot of the claims that the country is in major disrepair and not ready to operate on its own. Or maybe it's just typical government bureaucracy.

[edit on 12/17/2006 by SmallMindsBigIdeas]

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 06:10 PM
I don't really think that people are fighting for "fruit salad" as ribbons are sometimes called, but I do see why some people would be interested.

I don't remember the source exactly but I remember reading something that sounded pretty right on to me: "In Vietnam, thousands of medals for heroism were earned every day. Some were even awarded."

I think it comes down to the nature of the fight. There is a perception that we should have the upper hand. The insurgents seem as though they should be far inferior, and by many meaningful measures they infact are inferior. They're not trained like our guys, they haven't got the same weaponry or technology, and on the less legitimate side, on the whole I don't think Americans have much respect for the region they come from.

There is a huge perceptual difference between storming German machine gun nests and taking out an insurgent sniper, even under comparable circumstances. Because whether the Germans actually got artillery support or not, they are seen as a more formidable foe because they had it, because they were trained, etc.

I think there's a certain prejudice there that makes doing something extraordinary against the insurgents seem like it should be par for the course.

There is however a definate PR slant to some cases.
Jessica Lynch certainly didn't rate a bronze star, but she got it for being white and having good teeth even though she surrendered- twice (she freaked out yet again during her staged rescue, even though there were no Iraqi troops in the area).

Sergeant Curtis Campbell on the other hand fought his way out of that ambush, probably rated a silver star or better, but was only awarded the bronze star because they couldn't have somebody else trump their cute little country girl.

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