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Air Force: Expeditious recognition for expeditionary Airmen

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Dec. 07, 2006) -- The Air Force deputy chief of staff for personnel told lawmakers Dec. 6 the service makes it a priority to recognize the contributions of its Airmen.

"In war, our top priorities are to win and take care of our people," said Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, before the House Armed Services Committee military personnel subcommittee. "An integral part of taking care of our people is timely and appropriate recognition of our Airmen."

Lawmakers had expressed concerns that during the war on terrorism, which began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. military has not recognized enough of its members with the traditional military decorations such as the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with valor, the Navy or Air Force Cross, and the Medal of Honor.

There also were concerns that the military services, when they did recognize military members, were not doing so in a timely or appropriate manner. Legislators felt that for military members killed in action, decorations should be awarded as soon possible, so family members could know of a soldier's decorations at the time of the funeral instead of months or years afterwards.

General Brady told lawmakers the Air Force is in fact recognizing the more than 278,217 Airmen who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Since Airmen began deploying to the CENTCOM AOR in October 2001, the Air Force has awarded two Air Force Crosses; 34 Silver Stars; 698 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 164 of those with valor; and 3849 Bronze Star Medals, 285 of those with valor.

The general said Air Force decorations below the Bronze Star level are processed in as few as 81 days. For Bronze Stars, the award takes about 116 days on average. Other higher-level awards, like the Silver Star, take longer. But that award is processed on average in six months.

"Your Air Force's total force is a fully-engaged member of an interdependent joint team fighting the war on terror," General Brady said. "We are absolutely committed to ensuring appropriate recognition is given for the incredible service and sacrifice of America's Airmen."