WASHINGTON (AP) — They fight the war from computer consoles and video screens.
But the troops that launch the drone strikes and direct the cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now their battlefield contributions may be recognized.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that for the first time the Pentagon is creating a medal that can be awarded to troops who have a direct impact on combat operations, but do it from afar.
‘‘I’ve seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cyber systems, have changed the way wars are fought,’’ Panetta said. ‘‘And they’ve given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar.’’