Secretary of Defense James Mattis has ordered the Pentagon to accelerate the process by which combat valor awards are reviewed in the Department of Defense, Military Times reports.
The February memo commands the Pentagon to review all Valor award nominations within 10 days at each stage of the approval process. “I know you share my commitment to ensuring appropriate and timely recognition of their service, particularly for acts of valor,” Mattis told staffers.
His guidance would speed the Medal of Honor review process to approximately 30 days. This marks a stark departure from past reviews, which in some cases have taken years to process through the bureaucratic pipeline. “Recognizing valorous acts should be high up there on the priority,” Pentagon official Pat Mulcahy told Military Times.
“This process that we have, that is so complex and so thorough, and the standards are so high that it takes a while, first of all. Generally, it’s a two- or three-year process because the requirement is that the evidence be incontestable, that there be no doubt,” former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said of the old process to CNN in 2010.
A New York Times investigation in 2010 also found that the review process may be so lengthy because evidence used to evaluate medals is now based on forensic evidence, as opposed to relying largely on eyewitness accounts.
Pentagon officials told Military Times Mattis’s change in the process was an homage to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mulachy continued, “We want to recognize our heroes, we want to do it timely and we want to do it appropriately. … But at the end of the day, if there was a valor act, and it doesn’t meet the [new] goals, it’s absolutely not the intent that it doesn’t come forward.”
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