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New Air Force Medal for Drone Pilots - Worn above the Bronze Star with Valor Device


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UAV operators are pilots. (Which is a whole other argument for another conversation)

 

They went through UPT and graduated with wings. They're just now stuck in their current RPA gig, whether they want to be there or not.

 

They can't help wearing what they are issued. It's not the RPA drivers that are the problem, it's the policy makers.

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In an era when a company commander and 1SG (and, thusly, all such leaders (CSM, BC, etc) receive a bronze star simply because they are the CO and 1SG, the award has already been cheapened beyond recognition, and your breath is wasted on it's order of precedence.

 

$.02

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UAV operators are pilots. (Which is a whole other argument for another conversation)

 

They went through UPT and graduated with wings. They're just now stuck in their current RPA gig, whether they want to be there or not.

 

They can't help wearing what they are issued. It's not the RPA drivers that are the problem, it's the policy makers.

Wait, so that PBS documentary on drones is inaccurate? I thought one of the instructors said they prefered non-aviators to go through the training. Something along the lines of it's easier to train them. I don't get it. Do they get qualified in an aircraft first then assigned to UAVs? If that's the case, that sucks for them.

 

It's sad to hear about the status of the Bronze Star. I just hope the valor device isn't handed out as freely.

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Wait, so that PBS documentary on drones is inaccurate? I thought one of the instructors said they prefered non-aviators to go through the training. Something along the lines of it's easier to train them. I don't get it. Do they get qualified in an aircraft first then assigned to UAVs? If that's the case, that sucks for them.

 

It's my understanding that some guys get them at aircraft selection and then there's also guys who flew other aircraft and then transitioned to them later.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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Napoleon said, "Give me enough ribbon and I will conquer all of Europe." In other words, the powers that be realize that the sheep will do their bidding, even to the point of death, if you pat them on the ass hard enough.

 

Having lost a Father serving his country, and having served myself, I can tell you that medals honestly mean jack sh*t. If your motivation to perform is based on your level of recognition, or based on how others are recognized, then you need to work in the entertainment industry where the lives of the men on your left and right aren't dependent on your feelings of entitlement.

 

When you go to combat, the universe rewards 2 medals: Life or Death. Any other medals that you get are "approved" by a flawed and sometimes political chain of command. Duty means performing when no one else is looking, regardless of what pretty ribbon is hanging on your chest.

 

Noone here is special. Awesome, we fly helicopters. Many have flown them before us, and many will after. Put your epeens back in your pants and show the proper respect to anyone who gives up many of their own personal freedoms in order to protect the freedom of others, whether they fly in the cockpit or from a conex.

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Wait, so that PBS documentary on drones is inaccurate? I thought one of the instructors said they prefered non-aviators to go through the training. Something along the lines of it's easier to train them. I don't get it. Do they get qualified in an aircraft first then assigned to UAVs? If that's the case, that sucks for them.

 

It's sad to hear about the status of the Bronze Star. I just hope the valor device isn't handed out as freely.

 

The AF ran an experiment (I'm not sure if it's still on going) that pulled non-pilots from their career fields, and training them to fly/drive/remote control drones.

 

9/10 the UAV Operator is a UPT grad.

 

So basically, there is a fully qualified T-6/T-1/T-44 pilot at the controls of the UAV.

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Grind is correct. I was in the AF for 8 years and almost went that route...but the caveot was that you had to have your commercial ticket from the FAA already as well...financed by yourself. In the end I'm glad I knocked out all my FAA certs. but its disheartening when you get to flight school and realize you didn't need any of it.

 

So in the end, all of them are pilots one way or the other (atleast they were 2 years ago when I left).

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I have a relative who is a high ranking O-grade in the USAF and is heavily involved with the AETC pipeline, and the last I talked to him he said there was strong pressure to making the RPA pilot track completely separate from those going to manned slots via UPT as a measure to cut costs.

Edited by zVo
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I have a relative whose a high ranking O-grade in the USAF and is heavily involved with the AETC pipeline, and the last I talked to him he said there was strong pressure to making the RPA pilot track completely separate from those going to manned slots via UPT as a measure to cut costs.

 

Not to mention increase morale. Let those who WANT the RPA gig have it, and leave the (expensively) trained pilots in their respective squadrons.

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There is another motivator beyond gongs, leadership and patriotism- you don't ever want to fail the 'brotherhood', or whatever sappy term you apply to your combat group. Books have been written about it, so I won't compete with better writers than I.

You identify with that bunch and other extended members of the profession. There is an eternally protective aspect to that identity that is exclusive of all others. If you "ain't one", then you "ain't one" forever, whatever you else you might be or become. Appearing to assume parity with that membership will always be an issue, no matter your intention.

 

I can intellectually understand the Legion of Merit's precedence, but I'm respecting the insignia, not necessarily the wearer. It's a tough act when that individual doesn't understand that issue and tries to identify the work toward the award with the job that people die doing. It isn't the same, it might be equal, or superior in management's eyes, but it's not the same.

 

The RPA folks need a distinct identification to mark them out. "I'm a pilot, too" doesn't do it anymore than an expert qualification with an M16 does it. When the guys in the dirt say "I owe that RPA guy a drink!"- and deliver when they see a distinct RPA identification, the RPA folks will be there. I can see it happening.

 

Edit- "I can see it coming." sounds sarcastic when I reread it. It wasn't meant to be. I can't see RPA crew ever having the panache of Dustoff or PJs. But I can see where they'll make differences in tight situations or doing tough jobs so the grunts don't have to. I'd rather not even send the SEALs in...

Guided munitions have been oversold, but skill, hard work and dedication never have. Putting a Hellfire through a window while orienting through a soda straw sounds like a pretty tough act to me. I can see buying that guy a drink.

Edited by Wally
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Having lost a Father serving his country, and having served myself, I can tell you that medals honestly mean jack sh*t.  If your motivation to perform is based on your level of recognition, or based on how others are recognized, then you need to work in the entertainment industry where the lives of the men on your left and right aren't dependent on your feelings of entitlement.

 

I think therein lies the problem. I know, no one ever joins to earn medals (I guess I should say most people don't go out to try to earn medals). I also understand that you do the job because of the guy standing next to you. That feeling you get when you look at your best friend's eyes right before you breach the door and say "I'll see you in a bit if we get out of this alive."

 

I grumble and gripe about this because I was brought up in a military where medals actually meant something and it wasn't given out like candy. The four top medals were reserved for the guys who went back to rescue their friends who's pinned down by heavy fire. Medivac pilots who went into hot LZs despite the odds. The guy who jumps on the grenade to save the four other guys next to him. I think we honor them the least that we can; with some shiny piece of metal and colorful cloth.

 

When I hear things like "medals don't mean sh*t" it saddens me and embarrasses me. It's a slap in the face to my friends who we gave medals to when we said "hey, thanks for saving my ass back there."

 

I don't think it's a matter of my entitlement to medals but a matter of respect for those who actually earned theirs. If medals really didn't mean sh*t, why bother saluting the Congressional Medal of Honor?

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