The top general in Afghanistan said Thursday he believes the concept of “courageous restraint” should be recognized but that a new medal to do so isn’t the answer.
A spokesman for Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s International Security Assistance Force confirmed earlier this week that a proposal was making the rounds for a medal that would recognize heroic efforts to protect innocent civilians during combat — a key tenet of the force’s counterinsurgency strategy to win hearts and minds.
McChrystal didn’t acknowledge that any sort of formal review is under way, but said in response to a question on the proposal during a Pentagon press conference that courage in uniform “can come under actions that may not be as expected or as traditional, involving killing the enemy. They may involve protecting civilians.
“There’s a great photograph from the Marjah operation,” McChrystal continued. “I think it’s a U.S. Marine shielding an Afghan man and an Afghan child with his own body. He wasn’t shooting anyone. He didn’t kill any Taliban. But I would argue that he showed as much courage as any that I’ve seen on the battlefield.