News Article

Pentagon To Review Controversial New "Nintendo" Medal

Posted by Damien McFerran

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to reconsider Distinguished Warfare Medal

Last month, the Distinguished Warfare Medal was unveiled by the US military. The medal is awarded to US troops who make "extraordinary achievements directly impacting combat operations...regardless of the member’s physical location or domain". This includes those involved in computer-based roles, and those who command remote attack drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

The nature of these roles has resulted in it being nicknamed "The Nintendo Medal", and some have even joked that it should come accompanied with a joystick.

Clearly, such activities are a part of modern war and no doubt save many lives in battle. However, the medal has caused upset because it has been placed in order of precedence ahead of the Bronze Star, and even above the Bronze Star with a “V” — handed out for valorous conduct in combat. Critics are suggesting that the Distinguished Warfare Medal should be downgraded.

22 US senators have signed a letter addressed to Secretary Hagel, voicing their concerns:

We believe that medals earned in combat, or in dangerous conditions, should maintain their precedence above non-combat awards. Placing the Distinguished Warfare Medal above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart diminishes the significance of awards earned by risking one’s life in direct combat or through acts of heroism.

It would seem that the move has generated the desired response, as the Pentagon has issued the following statement:

In light of concerns about the medal’s place in the order of precedence raised by veterans organizations and a number of members of Congress, Secretary Hagel is going to work with the chairman, service secretaries, and chiefs to review the order of precedence of the medal.

Nintendo itself is probably less than keen about its brand being associated so closely with military action, but what are your thoughts on this? Do you think operators of drones and other unmanned craft who save countless lives via their actions should be given the same recognition as those who actually risk life and limb on the field of battle? Post a comment to let us know.

[via gonintendo.com, news.yahoo.com]

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User Comments (51)

AlexSora89

#2

AlexSora89 said:

Thanks for getting me to do an unnecessary Spit Take, people.

("Spit Take" - see Tv Tropes article)

Bragoon

#3

Bragoon said:

It should be downgraded. There's a big difference between sitting behind a computer screen blowing up folks and getting into the middle of a firefight.

But hey, it's the internet, no sense arguing here.

Rafie

#4

Rafie said:

I'm a 8 year military veteran myself and I've heard about the "Nintendo medal" for years. The Armed Forced was simply paying homage to the most innovative console in history. It wasn't meant to be taken out of context like this. I don't really have an opinion about where it should be placed. Obviously receiving a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, or even the Medal of Honor means that the uniformed member has went above and beyond the call of duty (No pun intended) and has saved lives whilst completing their mission. Most to all who have either of these medals have lost a part of them that can't continue their service. So I guess now that I'm writing this...the medal should be placed much lower. A fight on the ground is worldly different than those who sit at the desk. TRUST ME!

I don't mean to go on about it, I just want those who aren't informed...to get informed to understand a bit more. Nintendo is and always will be a favorite console of all time.

theblackdragonAdmin

#5

theblackdragon said:

I agree with Rafie — I know and have known many wounded and mentally traumatized veterans, and i think i would honestly be ashamed if I were a drone operator or someone behind a computer to be handed an award that carries more weight than the one another person was given for sacrifices they made on the ground. I'm not opposed to people being given medals, i couldn't care less what drone operators and pencil-pushers do to keep morale up in their ranks, but in no way do i feel their skill at flying these things or a decent idea that panned out nicely outweighs the courage and sacrifice of someone who was on the ground in the middle of a fight.

As for Nintendo being involved, I'm sure they're pretty annoyed to be brought into the middle of something they have absolutely no control over, but nicknames are nicknames, and it'll probably be around for a long time.

luisesteban

#6

luisesteban said:

So they are no argumenting about the name, but about the relevance over other medals?

Bolt

#7

Bolt said:

OH, good, more rewards for killing people, for a second there I thought there weren't going to be enough. Silly me. :D

HeatBombastic

#10

HeatBombastic said:

Although I don't have an opinion about where the medal should be placed, it is an interesting topic.

I'm not sure if this medal should be downgraded or not because the fact that it's not just for peeps on the computer. The Nintendo medal is just a nickname if you get the Distinguished Warfare medal by being a tech-wiz*.

I know many people's argument is that people risk themselves in the battlefield get lower medals than the people on the computer, but programming drones isn't a simple task.

My thoughts on it is to downgrade it, but only to the point to be equal with the other medals. If they're all are serving our country and doing great things, what makes on better than the other. What makes a programmer who slaves away at the computer work any harder than someone who goes into the battlefield? And vice-versa.

*Perhaps they should just make the Nintendo medal a medal itself, so that the other troops that go into the battlefield and get this medal awarded more? What do you think guys?

LEGEND_MARIOID

#11

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Sorry, how vile and disgusting is this? "Save" lives, how about "taking" them (and I'm talking about civilians ffs). Also there is controversy over legality of drones anyway. Feel sorry for Nintendo being sullied like this. Pathetically stupid.

GuardianKing

#13

GuardianKing said:

Personally, seeing as human contact leads to nothing but violence, discord, and madness, I think we should somehow separate each country from each other (nukes or something) and artificially push then as far from each other as possible. Afterwards, each country puts artificial life forms around another country to prevent them from establishing contact with each other, shooting humans dead on sight at the threat of escape.

Even if humanity's problems won't be solved immediately, I can only foresee a better future a century or two down the line, in a society revolving around its own population instead of engaging war with one another. The deeds of mankind sicken me. Nothing but war ensues from contact between humans, so better erase all crossroads between the people.

WildMan

#15

WildMan said:

First off, @Rafie thank you for your service to our country!

Secondly, not to say that piloting a drone isn't hard and stressful, but I think that someone who does something heroic in harms way deserves to be placed higher than someone who controls a drone..

ShadJV

#16

ShadJV said:

I'm not saying that this sort of medal should be place above others that reward soldiers for service on the battlefield, but I don't think that means drone pilots don't deserve any respect and should be treated as pencil pushers. Drone piloting is a 4 year college degree for a reason: it's actually fairly complex (nothing like piloting a video game plane) and high risk. Without the most precise movements it can cost the military a lot of money in damages or, worse, innocent lives. They're playing with weaponry, not everyone should be given so much responsibility, and any casualties, even intended ones, are deaths that the individual has to face were caused by their hands. Sure, they aren't risking their lives, but they do have immense responsibilities and I think they do deserve to be recognized. Don't necessarily put these medals above those given to soldiers who have fought in battle, but still give them your respect. They give more than most people assume.

theblackdragonAdmin

#17

theblackdragon said:

@HeatBombastic: These sorts of medals aren't achievements to be unlocked, they're awards for service above and beyond the call of duty. No offense, but I think an officially-named 'Nintendo' medal would be a horrible idea, and if they did follow through with such a thing I'd think Nintendo would be well within their rights to sue to have it changed to something else. Nintendo has always gone out of their way to keep their public image in the realm of good family fun, not politics and the horrors of war. :/

zionich

#18

zionich said:

Just another reason for me to dislike out current administration in America.

Now if the building was being attacked and they continued their mission it would make sense. Not saying that knowing that you have killed people with a touch of a button is easy, but it's alot different than getting shot at and defending fellow soldiers lives.

Next Congress will get medals because they "helped " make decisions. ...

I blame Xbox and Playstation for having to many fps games. They should be banned from homes :P

Rect_Pola

#19

Rect_Pola said:

Beside (our presumed) distress Nintendo has over their branding, isn't the nickname a little rude to the operators?

Jack_Package

#20

Jack_Package said:

I've seen videos of drones being controlled by 360 pads. And I've read reports that describe the use of wii remotes with robotic bomb disarmers.

NintyMan

#24

NintyMan said:

I find the use of the Nintendo label for drones ridiculous because Nintendo doesn't even have experience with shooters and military games. They're not the ones making Call of Duty, these guys just use their name because they're a famous video game company. I agree with the senators that this medal should be downgraded below combat ones.

That said, drones are increasingly becoming more important. This reminds me of a political cartoon in which a kid's mom complains at him for playing video games all the time, and then on the other side of the page he's a soildier piloting a drone with a remote controller in an operation. It's probably more complex than that, but it shows how warfare and covert operations are changing these days.

The_Fox

#25

The_Fox said:

I have a good friend who lost his left arm below the elbow and suffered permanent nerve damage during his deployment in Afghanistan. Needless to say when he heard about this he wasn't too amused.

Shane904

#26

Shane904 said:

I think it is still something to be awarded for, but not above physical combat (only term I can think of) medals. While drone piloting would be very mentally painful, you're probably not risking losing limbs or your life. However, drone pilots do get a better look at the detestation they just caused.

DarkKirby

#27

DarkKirby said:

The funny thing about this topic is Nintendo doesn't even make warfare games but their name is so well known it got chosen over Xbox 360, Activation, and EA, who DO make warfare games.

SMEXIZELDAMAN

#29

SMEXIZELDAMAN said:

This honestly has nothing to do with anything. Medalling people for doing stuff in wars is dumb too :( Stop wars.

jedisquidward

#30

jedisquidward said:

Honestly, it should be downgraded. It doesn't really have anything to do with nintendo other than the name.

AcesHigh

#31

AcesHigh said:

I think the medal should definitely be downgraded. But I do think it is relevant and it would be good for people on this blog commenting that it's nonsense to fully understand what these soldiers (yes, they're still soldiers) go through. A lot of people don't realize the mental as well as physical demands placed on remote operators. They are still soldiers and they deal in real death. They take it to bed with them whether they want to or not. They are witness to the death and destruction en mass that their payloads deal in a way that even soldiers on the ground often do not see. The closest to compare would be that of a real pilot. A lot of these drone pilots also have a very difficult time in relating with the simplisity in which they kill and the finality of their actions. This can be very traumatic and a lot of these soldiers also suffer post traumatic syndroms like the men and women with boots on the floor. Just a different varietly.

And they do save a crap load of lives as well. I think you'd have a hard time convincing a grunt on the ground who has been dug in for 12 hours with bullets picking off his squad mates left and right, down to his last clip, if the guy or girl expertly piloting that drone who just blew a hole in the blockcade allowing his escape didn't deserve recognition.

Yes, it should be downgraded. But it's still relevant. Those soldiers take a lot of burden onto their shoulders each night. Their casualties may not be missing limbs or death but their caualties are often fractured minds and tarnished souls. They do their part and deserve recognition as well.

AcesHigh

#32

AcesHigh said:

Couldn't have said it better Five-seveN! A very good way of putting it to someone who probably has years ahead of his or her life to learn this for themselves as well.

Jaz007

#33

Jaz007 said:

My brother is a Marine who has seen multiple deployments. Operating a Drone is not the same as being a grunt. The hardships and trauma as drone operator are not nearly as dramatic as that of a grunt's. This medal should definitely be downgraded.

Hamguar

#34

Hamguar said:

Definitely downgrade it. The fact that it's higher than a purple heart is frankly appalling.

Jaz007

#35

Jaz007 said:

@SMEXIZELDAMAN The U.S military (most militarys really) doesn't start any wars. War is declared upon a nation or politicians start it. Why should the men who valiantly fight for there country to protect its citizens not be reckonized for there service. Not giving medals would do nothing to stop war and simply not give the reckonition they deserve to the men who sacrifice so much or everything so you can be safe.

The_Fox

#36

The_Fox said:

So, can we at least try and keep this comments section from going down in flames?

ShadJV

#37

ShadJV said:

@AcesHigh Exactly what I meant, except you probably worded it better. The worst part is that these drone operators are often not included as one of the soldiers who are sacrificing themselves. They may not sacrifice their body, but they sacrifice their minds, they have to deal with knowing they have taken lives, and the exclusion of acknowledging their value can leave them to feel even more alone, especially after they come back from war and everyone is trying to help the other soldiers readjust and not considering that these men and women too must readjust and overcome what they've seen and done. I'm not saying these medals should be any higher than those for the ones who sacrifice their lives, but they still deserve recognition and respect.

stipey

#38

stipey said:

Why has this been published on NintendoLife? It's completely irrelevant to videogames, as the comment section proves. The name "Nintendo Medal" is totally arbitrary, and could as easily have been the Playstation Medal or Xbox Medal.

This is not even about the fact that it's called the Nintendo Medal. It's about politics within the military. Unless Nintendo comments on the nickname, it's irrelevant, and even then it would only be tangentially relevant. Really disappointed in NintendoLife for publishing this.

doctor_doak

#39

doctor_doak said:

Well... I was going to say something, but I think my opinions on these issues are very much at odds with most others here. There you go, +10 XP for thinking 'aloud'. Carry on..

@ Stipey

Being a bit oversensitive I think. It was dubbed 'The Nintendo Medal' NOT the 'XBox' or 'Playstation' medal, therefore it has relevance to discussions related to Nintendo.

Sp00n

#40

Sp00n said:

Gosh.

Drone strikes on a Nintendo site.

Defending drone strikes on a Nintendo site.

Oh deary me.

Sp00n

#41

Sp00n said:

Oh gods, I didn't realise there was an Arwing photoshopped into that picture of a drone.

Why???

AcesHigh

#42

AcesHigh said:

ShadJV. Totally agree! The thing is, most of the people on his blog haven't lived long enough our endured enough mental strain and anguish to know that pain comes in more forms than physical. As soon as they hit the real world and have to make decisions that have serious reprecussions on themselves and others, reality will hit real quick and they'll understand. For now I guess we're just here to give some levity to whats already put there.

grimbldoo

#43

grimbldoo said:

@LEGEND_MARIOID #11
Please keep such opinions to yourself. America actually has one of the kindest militaries out there. If we were such civilian killers, then children and women with bombs on them wouldn't have been such a problem in the Middle East. Our soldiers would stop for these women and children at roads and even offer aid only to get blown up.

Sp00n

#45

Sp00n said:

@grimbldoo

Drone strikes kill civilians. That is a stone cold fact. The dispute is over how many, with the US government claiming only single digits, whilst other evidence suggests hundreds of civilian deaths.

LDXD

#46

LDXD said:

@Sp00n study up on history and war before claiming such nonsense this is all way off topic anyway

DePapier

#47

DePapier said:

Somebody said this once but: can we not prove how much we love war on this topic at least? I know for one that I tend to fire arguments but please, at least on the subject of REAL warfare... can we not do that?

hamispink

#48

hamispink said:

@Ark_Sin Think about that a little more. Do you really think that just because people are under the same banner of a country, with the few million of them separated from the rest of the world, they wouldn't find something to disagree on? Civil wars do exist you know.

Wheels2050

#50

Wheels2050 said:

I echo the sentiments of many here - why is this on NL?

For a site that's so scared to have discussions of religion, sex and politics on it, this is a strange and out-of-character choice. Not to mention that it has nothing at all to do with video games bar the nickname.

Captain_Gonru

#51

Captain_Gonru said:

This may seem a bit off topic, but as I assume most people on this site a Nintendo fans, here's a quick thought. Regardless of your opinion of drone warfare, (full disclosure, I'm for it in concept, but can see the need for improvement) I find it interesting that it was nicknamed the "Nintendo" medal, instead of, say, the "XBox" medal. It does speak to the continued cultural significance of our prefered console, doesn't it?

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