Debate: Should the Bronze Star Be Given To People Not Engaged in "Direct" Combat?

May 09, 2015

Disclaimer: This list is NOT all inclusive. US Special Operations have dozens of firearms at their disposal. This list is just a sampling and is arranged in NO particular order.

     FN SCAR

The Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) is a modular rifle made by FN Herstal (FNH) for the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to satisfy the requirements of the SCAR competition. This family of rifles consist of two main types. The SCAR-L, for "light", is chambered in the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge and the SCAR-H, for "heavy", fires 7.62×51mm NATO. Both are available in Long Barrel and Close Quarters Combat variants.

10 Guns of the Special Forces

10 Guns of the Special Forces

10 Guns of the Special Forces

Pictured Above: FN MK 20 MOD 0 Sniper Support Rifle (SSR)
  • 5.56×45mm NATO(SCAR-L)
  • 7.62×51mm NATO(SCAR-H)
Action Gas-operated (short-stroke gas piston), rotating bolt
Rate of fire 625 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity
  • SCAR-L: 2,870 ft/s (870 m/s) (M855)
  • SCAR-L: 2,630 ft/s (800 m/s) (Mk 262)
  • SCAR-H: 2,342 ft/s (714 m/s) (M80)
Effective firing range
  • SCAR-L: 300 m (330 yd) (Short), 500 m (550 yd) (Standard), 600 m (660 yd) (Long)
  • SCAR-H: 300 m (330 yd) (Short), 600 m (660 yd) (Standard), 800 m (870 yd) (Long)
Feed system
  • SCAR-L: STANAG box magazine
  • SCAR-H/SSR: 20-round box magazine
Sights Iron sights or various optics



 Words By Mike Weisbecker.

I happened to catch the Medal Of Honor ceremony on the Pentagon Channel today.  Two medals conferred.  Both for actions in Vietnam.  One was posthumous.  The living recipient was 80 years old and in full Army dress uniform.  Both acts, from the citations read, were what I would consider worthy of our nation’s highest military honor.  No questions about that.

DEBATE: Should the Bronze Star Be Awarded to People Not Engaged in "Direct" Combat?

But this made me think of the Bronze Star and the confusion that comes about due to the fact that it can be awarded for meritorious service as well as acts of valor in a combat theater. 


This came to a very heated discussion a few years ago when two Air Force finance specialists were awarded the medal for meritorious service while on their deployments to Afghanistan. 

Why the heat?  Well most folks think of the Bronze Star as a decoration that is awarded like the Silver Star, which can only be awarded for acts of valor in combat.  The distinction when the Bronze Star is awarded for acts of valor is a V device on the medal. 

DEBATE: Should the Bronze Star Be Awarded to People Not Engaged in "Direct" Combat?Ever since then I have noticed when election time rolls around, especially after the war on terror started in 2001, it comes up in campaign commercials.  Lawyer Joe Blow served a tour as a JAG officer with his Guard or Reserve unit, had the glory shot taken in full battle rattle with his sidearm strapped to his side and the voiceover tells his hopeful constituency that he was awarded the Bronze Star.  And most of the folks think “well he faced some shit over there then didn’t he?”  When in fact he maybe just dodged some incoming at the main base in country, just like anyone else based there did.


That’s when we learned about the two ways this medal can be awarded. I learned of the distinction when we wrapped up the initial Desert Storm operation in mid 1991.  I was in an aviation unit and two of our supervisors were put in for Bronze Stars.  Not that they didn’t deserve more than the blanket Achievement Medals we all received.  But many of us were confused.  Sure we had some SCUD attacks and SCUD/Patriot debris rained down from those.  But we weren’t on the front lines.  The weapons some of us carried to the region were collected as soon as we landed, never to be seen by us again. 

The medal is used as a warzone Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).  If it didn’t have the other option to be awarded for valor it wouldn’t rub me wrong that a finance specialist gets the same medal (for all intents and purposes) as a combat controller who gets pinned down by hostile fire and drags two of his buddies to the medevac and gets shot in the calf by doing so. 

Something needs to change.  The award criteria for the Bronze Star needs to be amended to make it for valorous actions only or come up with a medal that could serve as a combat zone MSM.  Or just give them MSM’s.