Military may soon start awarding medals for ... "courageous restraint"

Make sure to leave room on your jacket for a Purple Heart too, since winning one of these will almost certainly increase your odds of winning one of those.

“The idea is being reviewed at Headquarters ISAF,” Sholtis said. “The idea is consistent with our approach. Our young men and women display remarkable courage every day, including situations where they refrain from using lethal force, even at risk to themselves, in order to prevent possible harm to civilians. … That restraint is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those seen in combat actions.”

[S]ome soldiers say rewarding “restraint” while risking their own lives is a troubling concept…

A U.S. Marine captain who has served in Iraq, said that he understands the intentions of the award but believes “it’s just a bad idea.” He said, “They teach us not to second-guess our decisions in dangerous situations. When people second-guess themselves they can be putting lives at risk.”…

[O]ther soldiers saw the medal proposal as a reinforcement of troubling rules of engagement. “Unfortunately, we are being reduced to a police force,” said another U.S. soldier. “There are troops that never leave Bagram or Kandahar airfield. … Maybe if they left us all on base and never sent us out to confront the enemy, we could all be honored [for] valor.”

Follow the link for a legal advisor to the Green Berets slamming the idea as a concession to critics who claim U.S. troops don’t follow the rules of war already. Two things here. First, how’s The One supposed to sell the idea of “courageous restraint” among the infantry when his use of drones is trending precisely the opposite way? I’m not knocking him for that — as I’ve noted many times, he’s liquidated a lot of bad guys over the past year — but when the LA Times is reporting that drone operators don’t even need to know the full identities of their targets before firing on them, a “courageous restraint” medal for soldiers on the ground seems rather nuanced. (Also nuanced? Obama cracking jokes about drone attacks.) Second, what exactly would a display of “courageous restraint” look like? Not firing back at Taliban gunmen because civilians are caught in the crossfire? Declining to drop a JDAM on a safe house because women might be inside? I can’t help thinking that this whole idea boils down to the military searching for ways to propagandize more effectively among Afghans. Shouldn’t that be State’s job?

Update: I should make clear, this isn’t Obama’s idea. It originated with a British general. Whether the U.S. will adopt it is what’s now being considered.