Although disguised by the simplicity of clicking "approve" or "deny", few duties need a higher level of discretion than reviewing medal requests... Similar powers – such as that of promotion – may only occur as open positions allow. However, there are generous upper limits to the number of medals that may be awarded to a single officer (where any exist). Extra regulation of requested awards is therefore necessary.
Medals are especially important marks of honour within the Empire, being one of the few credits than an officer holds in permanence. Even after the final conclusion of an Imperial career, one's medal case accompanies them. Upon those who review & approve medals, is the burden to ensure that they maintain their meaning and integrity: not only for the current generation of officers, but for the next.
This document of Medal Awarding Theory assists in that goal... It is so–named because it acknowledges that "in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice – but in practice, there is". Awards are requested under such a vast array of circumstances that no hardened set of "rules" can always be completely applied, and every reviewing officer must use a certain degree of their own better judgement.
Contained herein are fundamental principles, and a series of other considerations that need be taken into account when reviewing a medal request.
The Galactic Empire's medal structure and administration differs from the 'typical' faction, which either has a single officer reviewing all medal requests, or has developed a separate system of medals for each of its subordinate Divisions... In the first example, medals are routinely reviewed by an individual too far removed from the awarders, the recipients, or the circumstances within the individual Divisions. In the second, medals only have value within their own Division, which isn't acceptable by the GE philosophy that the Imperial forces is a cohesive entity composed of many integral parts. Therefore, the basic Merit and Service Medals of The Galactic Empire were designed to be "universal standards" for all Imperial officers.
Truly proper consideration of a medal request requires that the reviewer be at least somewhat familiar with both the awarder and intended recipient... Thus, the Supreme Commander has afforded DivComs the right of final approval over Merit Medals destined for officers in their respective Divisions.
This allowance has its advantages, but also makes the "standardised" system harder to maintain... The system can only be standard if all who administrate it are basing their decisions on similar principles. If the Commander of The Legion is awarding the Bronze Seal on very different criteria than the Fleet Chief Petty Officer, stormtroopers may begin to receive it much more or much less frequently than non–commissioned officers. Such disparity in the system can lead to problems in morale, and if it becomes significant, will alter the meaning of a medal across Divisions and defeat the standardised system.
Attitude and Morale
The attitude a Division Commander takes toward medal awards is important, as it tends be noticed and reacted to by their subordinates. Regardless of how much metal he wears on his own chest, a DivCom who finds a medal request fit for approval should take pride in the fact that they have an individual deserving of the award under their command, and never hesitate to congratulate accordingly.
At the same time, education against future errors is in the best interests of the Empire. When a medal request is fit for denial, the reply should not be a simple "award denied"... Rather, a moment should be taken to make the requester aware of the reasons for the denial; to educate them as to why the request is inappropriate. Morale tends to suffer when the review process seems an arbitrary one.
It is highly recommended that a DivCom encourage his subordinates to gain his pre–approval for all competition medals, by submitting a brief outline of the competition and its intended awards.
Certain medals (such as the IVC/IVM, as of this writing) already specify that prior approval must be sought from the respective DivCom, in order for a competition host to have authorisation to request them... Also, in the case of any competition open to more than a single unit, approval to use medals such as the IVC/IVM should be a "general approval", with the exact variation or variations ultimately awarded depending on the degree of participation. The potential for higher awards not only encourages participation, but avoids a situation where prestigious variants of competition awards are being issued for little effort in a failed competition.
Other Merit Medals may be requested at any time based on one's medal awarding authority, but like all medal requests, are subject to final review... Thus, any officer who runs a competition and promises medal awards that weren't pre–approved, is doing so at their own risk. A DivCom is not obliged to approve awards that were promised by an officer overstepping his boundaries... If the requested medals are fitting, so be it. A denial is in order if they are not. In either case, medal requests submitted without pre–approval are reviewed no differently from any other, whether they are for a competition or otherwise.
Effectively, the Supreme Commander is entrusting DivComs with the duty of upholding the intentions of each medal...
The first – and most basic – question to be asked when reviewing any medal request is therefore:
"Is this request's reasoning within the stated intentions for this medal?"
If a medal request does not significantly conform to the medal's stated intentions, it should be denied, without exception. The medal is being requested excessively or incorrectly, regardless of any other factor.
The second consideration to take into account when reviewing a medal request is whether or not the reasoning for the award is in "good form", as it will be permanently archived in the database upon approval.
All medal requests need to conform to the guidelines put forth in the Awarding Process chapter, and any additional guidelines stated on the medal request form itself, of which all officers requesting or reviewing medals should be aware.
Typically, there is good form so long as the reasoning is spelled correctly, uses the Imperial standard YYYY–MM–DD format for dates, and adheres to the requested format of Competition Name (Placing) for competition awards. Such corrections should be made silently on behalf of officers, in recognition of the fact that a respectable number may not regard English as their first language.
If a medal request does fall within the general intentions of the medal's usage and has been filed correctly, deeper consideration of the award is necessary. Prime points for consideration are:
- Non–Descript Reasoning: A very common error. Reasons such as "For exemplary service" and "For dedication to Alpha Squadron" are non–descript, and should be denied. All medal requests for "service above and beyond the call of duty" need cite the specific service(s) or act(s) of dedication for which the medal is deserved. Medal reasoning should be terse and to–the–point, but not vague... Vagueness does not give the reviewer sufficient information of what the intended recipient accomplished, and dilutes the usefulness of medal history logs.
Were the two bad example reasons given above to read "For exemplary service: continual active submission of ideas to his ship" and "For rendering website assistance to Alpha Squadron", they would then be considered specific enough.
Sometimes, a vague reason can be supplemented with information from the requester's extra commentary or the reviewer's own knowledge. However if there is not enough overall information available to write specific reasoning, the medal request need be denied.
- Medal Requests for Peers or Superiors: Medals an officer requests for those of equal or greater seniority to themselves should be denied. The only exception is pre–approved medals for competition victories, as a competition host must be able to properly credit the victors. Many unit commanders attempt to request medals for "fellow" unit commanders for services & assistance rendered, but it is a questionable practice in spite of good intentions. If an officer feels that a fellow or superior officer deserves such a medal, the correct method is not to directly request a medal: but to file a recommendation with the intended recipient's superior(s), even up to their Division Commander or the Supreme Commander where warranted.
If a medal is being awarded on behalf of a subordinate for services rendered to the subordinate, the requesting superior or the reviewing officer should keep this clear within the medal's reasoning. (E.G.– When making an award on behalf of Lt. Kardock, the reason may be "For rendering website assistance to Lt. Kardock.")
- Invalid Combinations: Merit Medals may still technically be awarded for competition victories (however this is discouraged, except where a competition involves performing a range of activities too diverse to qualify under any of the individual Service Medals). Certain of the lesser Merit Medals may also sometimes be requested on the grounds that an individual contributed significantly to the administration or materials of a particularly complex competition. What should not ever occur, however, is usage of both merit and service medals to award the victors of a single section of a competition. One or the other must be decided upon. (E.G.– A flying competition requesting the Imperial Victory Cross with Silver Wings for "XvT – 1st Place", Bronze Wings for "XvT – 2nd Place" and a Medal of Merit for "XvT – 3rd Place" is commonly attempted, but may not be awarded as requested. Very simply, if there was enough participation for three placings, then the Gold, Silver, and Bronze variants of the IVC should be awarded. If there was not, then only first and second placings should receive awards.)
- "Duplicate" Medal Requests: An officer should not receive two medal awards for similar (or the same) reasons in a short period of time; nor should they receive a lesser medal for a service that has already been factored into the reasoning for a greater medal. This most frequently occurs when both a lower and a higher level of command, without previous discussion, recommend an officer for an award based on their performance.
- The Better Judgement of the Reviewer: As noted above, Division Commanders have been given the right of final approval over the majority of Merit Medals destined for officers of their Division: because of their familiarity with the recipients, and with the current circumstances/issues of their Division. Such circumstances/issues can alter whether or not a medal request conforms to its "official" intentions... A DivCom is entrusted to use his better judgement in making such interpretations.
For any questions or concerns that arise, the input of the Supreme Commander may be freely sought.