Drone strike pilots could be awarded medals, Michael Fallon reveals

Posted On: 
20th September 2017

Drone strike pilots who bomb Islamic State targets remotely could be awarded medals, Sir Michael Fallon has said.

On a visit to British troops in Iraq Sir Michael announced a new medal for those serving on Operation Shader
Credit: 
PA Images

The Defence Secretary argued that the system for honouring troops should adapt alongside the “changing character of warfare”.

Unmanned drones have become a key element of British military hardware and have been used as part of Operation Shader to target Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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On a visit to British troops in Iraq Sir Michael announced a new medal to recognise those who had served in the ongoing battle in the Middle East.

Medals are currently awarded to those who go beyond the call of duty while being physically exposed to danger. But Sir Michael said there would be a review of the system.

He said: "The changing character of warfare provides new challenges; not just about how we fight but also how we recognise and support those who serve.

"As fighting has evolved we have adapted, ensuring our troops have cutting-edge equipment including unmanned systems operated from outside the battle space.

"Our recognition of service, the risks taken, and the long-term effects must therefore adapt too.

"That is why we need to examine how to provide medallic recognition for those making a vital contribution to Op Shader outside the battle space, from Reaper pilots taking life-and-death decisions to those who ensure our planes can strike Daesh targets."

Labour has also called for a new medal to recognise servicemen and women fighting Islamic State.