Morale: Heroic Deeds Kept Secret


December 13, 2007: A growing source of discontent in the U.S. military is the Department of Defense policy of not releasing to the public the official descriptions ("narratives") of what soldiers did to receive medals. This especially applies to two of the three highest awards; the Silver Star (number 3) and the Distinguished Service Cross (number 2). There are very few Medals of Honor awarded, and the military does not restrict access to the narratives for these.

A growing number of military personnel, and civilians, are pressuring the Department of Defense to change their policy. Some members of Congress are threatening to enact laws to force the release of these narratives. There is currently no law restricting public access to these narratives. The military insist they are keeping the narratives secret in order to protect the privacy of troops receiving these awards, and for operational security (not letting the enemy know of secret military techniques). Active duty troops and veterans generally consider this nonsense, and blame the "cover your ass" attitude in the Pentagon for the policy.

Since September 11, 2001, about 400 military personnel have received Silver Stars and Distinguished Service Crosses. All the military releases is their name, where the heroic event took place and the home town of the recipient. Awards like this have been around since antiquity. The Romans had a number of them, and the point of it all was to publicly honor those who did extraordinary things in combat. Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with reviving the practice in modern times, and he was quick to note that publicizing these things was important. But times have changed, or have they?


Article Archive

Morale: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close