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 higher in ranking than the Bronze Star and the Purple 
Heart, but lower than the Silver Star.Panetta said the new medal, for 
only a small number of service men and women, reflected battlefield contributions 
in a world of changing warfare. He said that remotely piloted aircraft 
and cyber systems have changed the way that wars are fought and 
can change the course of a conflict from afar.But the Veterans of 
Foreign Wars and other groups sent a letter to President Obama in 
March, asking him to keep the medal ranked below the Purple Heart, 
which is awarded for combat injuries. Critics said the ranking was an 
injustice to those troops who risked their lives in battle.The right decision 
was made, the VFW said Monday. This decision will clearly keep medals 
that can only be earned in combat in their high order of 
precedence, while providing proper recognition to all who support our war-fighters 
regardless of their distance from the fight.The American Legion's national 
commander, James E. Koutz, said Hagel's decision keeps the evolving roles 
of military combat in proper perspective."Cyber and drone warfare have become 
part of the equation for 21st-century combat, and those who fight such 
battles with distinction certainly deserve to be recognized," Koutz said 
in a statement. "But the American Legion still believes there's a fundamental 
difference between those who fight remotely, or via computer, and those 
fighting against an enemy who is trying t o kill them."As originally conceived, 
the blue, red and white-ribboned medal was to be awarded to individuals 
for "extraordinary achievement" related to a military operation that occurred 
after Sept. 11, 2001. But it does not require the recipient to 
risk his or her life to get it.Over the last decade of 
war, remotely piloted Predator and Reaper drones have become a critical 
weapon to gather intelligence and conduct air strikes against terrorists 
or insurgents around the world. They have been used extensively on the 
battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in strikes in Pakistan, 
Yemen and northern Africa.Over the same time, cyber attacks have become 
a growing national security threat, with Panetta and others warning that 
the next Pearl Harbor could well be a computer-based assault.The Bronze 
Star is the fourth-highest combat decoration and rewards meritorious service 
in battle, while the Silver Star is the third-highest combat award given 
for bravery. The Purple Heart is ranked just below the Bronze Star.Several 
other awards, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, are also 
ranked higher than the Silver Star, but are not awarded for combat.In 
addition to veterans' concerns, there is a practical side to the rankings 
for currently serving troops. There are grades of medals -- commendation, 
merit, distinguished -- that affect promotions for those still in uniform. 
Each grade gives troops a certain number of points neede
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