Home News Mattis orders leadership to accelerate combat valor awards

Mattis orders leadership to accelerate combat valor awards

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Marine officers Major Robert S. Weiler and Capt. Christopher J. Bronzi display their Silver Star Awards after a ceremony where they both were presented the  honor by 1st Marine Division commanding general Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski at Camp Pendleton Dec. 13. The Marine officers from 2nd Battalion , 4th Marines, 5th Marine Regiment received their award for their actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II last year. When isolated and outnumbered, Bronzi commanded his Marines from a rooftop in a deadly assault which contributed to the elimination of 250 insurgents. Weiler led the quick reaction force that aided Bronzi while he was cornered and directed his men on various occasions to counterattack the enemy while facing a barrage of bullets.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered military leadership to accelerate the internal procedures required in order to approve combat valor awards, cutting down on delays which can take anywhere from years to decades.

In response to personnel who express frustration in the often excruciatingly long delays in the vetting and awarding of military awards, particularly those for valor in combat. Such frustrations are expressed with equal frequency from both the command and rank-and-file personnel.

To combat this issue and show he is, in fact, listening to those under his command, Mattis sent out a two-paragraph memo to each military service secretary in late February, outlining what needs to be done.

“The demands and sacrifices of military service on the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines under our charge are significant,” the memo read. “I know you share my commitment to ensuring appropriate and timely recognition of their service, particularly for acts of valor.”

Higher level awards -such as the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses, and the Silver Star- require considerable vetting, endorsement, and approval from a lengthy chain of individuals, which can take quite some time to process. However, Mattis’ new directive would speed the process up considerably- a welcome bit of news for even the personnel in charge of awards.

“There’s an awful lot going on for the commander of an organization,” said Pat Mulcahy, the Defense Department’s director for officer and enlisted personnel management. She and her staff held a key role in ensuring Mattis’s guidance became policy. “But recognizing valorous acts should be high up there on the priority.”

A warrior’s warrior, Mattis spent the majority of his adult life in uniform, serving 44 years before retiring in 2013. Deeply respected by servicemembers, political leaders and foreign nationals for his honesty and plain-spoken nature, Mattis retains a sense of humility and respect for those who have walked the path of a warrior.

Despite his to-the-point nature in the memo, his orders were very clear on what need to be done.

“Your plan,” the memo concluded, “will include a description of your existing process, the timeline for implementing these changes, challenges associated with such accelerated processing, your mitigation strategy for addressing these challenges and recommendations for any changes to Department policy that would enhance your ability to achieve this processing requirement.”

According to the Military Times, Mulcahy reported that higher-level awards are currently meeting their target time listings and that due diligence is being done to ensure the award criteria is well-researched.

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