The debate was inspired by a recent article in the Washington Post (H/T SWJ). Some of the high points so far:
1.) Special wings for UAV operators. There was a little debate on this issue, however, I think much of the disagreement stems from the fact that not everyone is aware that plenty of non-aviators wear "wings". In the Army alone, air traffic controllers, flight ops specialists, maintainers, crew chiefs, flight medics and flight surgeons wear either the Army Aviation Badge or the Army Flight Surgeon Badge. By that precedent, UAV operators should at least be eligible for some sort of badge.
2.) Flight Pay. I think there was universal disagreement on this one. Remember, that extra "aviation incentive pay" is designed to keep pilots from leaving the service and flying for Delta Airlines or piloting helicopters for the local news service. UAV operators, as near as I can tell, aren't leaving the military in droves to fly for Delta.
3.) Valor Awards. This is a sore subject for some. The fact of the matter is that we give away combat awards frivolously; a Bronze Star can be awarded to someone for never leaving the safety of a forward operating base. Nor does one even need to engage in combat or come under fire for an Air Medal. By those standards alone, UAV operators should be able to receive Bronze Stars and Air Medals. Distinguished Flying Crosses...eh, probably not.
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