Making Medals Meaningless: Giving Them For “Courageous Restraint”

Since the very beginning of the war on terror, we’ve had overly restrictive rules on engagement for our troops. Those rules of engagement are the only reason Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden are alive today. We had both of them in our sights, but the Pentagon lawyers forced the troops to hold fire and the rest is history.

As the war has gone on, the Rules of Engagement have gotten more and more onerous. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of American soldiers who have died because there are politicians and generals who put a higher premium on keeping “civilians killed” stories out of the New York Times than they do on keeping their troops alive.

Now we’ve moved on to the next level of getting our soldiers killed: Medals for “Courageous Restraint”:

U.S. troops in Afghanistan could soon be awarded a medal for not doing something, a precedent-setting award that would be given for “courageous restraint” for holding fire to save civilian lives.

The proposal is now circulating in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Assistance Force, a command spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

“The idea is consistent with our approach,” explained Air Force Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis. “Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. In some situations our forces face in Afghanistan, that restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.”

Soldiers are often recognized for non-combat achievement with decorations such as their service’s commendation medal. But most of the highest U.S. military decorations are for valor in combat. A medal to recognize a conscious effort to avoid a combat action would be unique.

…A spokesman for the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation’s largest group of combat veterans, thinks the award would cause confusion among the ranks and send a bad signal.

“The self-protections built into the rules of engagement are clear, and the decision to return fire must be made instantly based on training and the threat,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The enemy already hides among noncombatants, and targets them, too. The creation of such an award will only embolden their actions and put more American and noncombatant lives in jeopardy. Let’s not rush to create something that no one wants to present posthumously.”

Now, you’re probably thinking, “So, you think:  this:  is a really stupid idea, but maybe the troops love it.” Oh yeah, well let’s see what they have to say about it over at the Military Times’ forums:

I can’t take those Hellfires back…..ooops!

This is yet again a dumb thought process from the powers that be on the hill..

I haven’t killed any civilians at my stateside base (and there are lots that need it), can I get a non-contingency version of the medal?

The ribbon for this medal would be in the color YELLOW! The actual medal would be blank on both sides denoting what you did or didn’t do to earn it!! The medal will be posted in your records as BHOLSM (Barack Hussain Obama Lack of Service Medal)

Gawd I’m glad that I’m retired!!!!!!!!!!I’m praying for those still in the ranks!

courageous restraint could easily get one a medal-a posthumously awarded purple heart


From 1966 to 1972, I spent 49 months in SEA. From first-hand experience, I can tell you the value of restraint in time of war.

1. It dramatically increases the odds that YOU will be killed.
2. YOUR side will lose.

Whether or not this is what the current occupant of the White House intends, I don’t know; but, this is precisely what will happen if it is implemented.

Having had three combat tours I, like a lot of my fellow warriors, knows that the slightest mistake can cost someone their life. Our men and women know what the ROE is and are pretty good about following them. What they don’t need are medals for “courageous restraint”. What they don’t need are leaders waving medals around that may give them pause to act. What they do need are leaders who have their backs so when the lead is flying and life and death decisions come at you in a split second they know they won’t be second guessed. I believe there are three Navy SEALS who know this better than anyone.

Incidentally, those comments are very representative of the sentiments on the forum — and they’re right. The last thing our troops need:  is : medals that encourage them to hesitate in a dangerous situation.

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