Virtual Honor

Update 4/16/13- Today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cancelled the proposed cyber-warrior medal.


I’m Tom Dwyer,

As battlefields shift from real to virtual the Pentagon’s shifting too.  They’ve created a medal for cyber warriors fighting from the safety of video screens.

Soldiers are dismissing it as a video game award, saying real medals should only recognize actual mortal peril.

Cyber medals highlight the cognitive dissonance soldiers experience about warfare.  Combat’s not just about honor and bravery, it’s about killing.  And drone pilots can be very effective killers, destroying enemies without risking their own lives.

Research on soldiers’ killing efficiency found societal approval helps them avoid permanent psychological damage.  Soldiers must know their country backs them and their killing is OK.  Medals are a prime way to communicate this approval.

Drone pilots are already suffering from PTSD, and as cyber war increases they’ll be killing even more.  The Pentagon knows they’ll need moral sanctions to remain effective.

Medals aren’t just to recognize bravery or honor; they’re to affirm that killing in war is OK.

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