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France awards US Marine Corps general the country’s top honor for military merit

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives the Legion of Honor from French Gen. Pierre de Villiers, chief of the defense staff, in Paris on the eve of Bastille Day, July 13, 2017. This year, the U.S. is leading the parade as the country of honor in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I and the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S. (DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
July 17, 2017

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford was recently awarded the Legion of Honor by the French Chief of Defense Gen. Pierre de Villiers.

The Legion of Honor is the highest award in France for military and civil merit. The top award was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.

(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr)

Dunford was awarded the Legion of Honor on July 13 in the Ecole Militaire, the French military’s version of the War College, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dunford was awarded the Legion of Honor for his “dedication to improving the military-to-military relationship between the two nations,” the Department of Defense said.

“As we are standing here, our soldiers are together in West Africa, they are together in Libya, they are together in Syria, they are together in Afghanistan and we are operating together in the South Pacific,” Dunford said, according to the Defense Department. “The sun doesn’t actually set on our relationship. Throughout the world there are French and Americans standing shoulder-to-shoulder doing the job.”

(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr)

“The French award recognizes Dunford for ‘the remarkable role he plays in the security of the world,’ especially ‘against armed terrorist groups that shock us with their brutality,’ de Villiers said,” the U.S. Defense Department reported.

(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr)

“There are between 4,000 and 5,000 French service members in West Africa helping partners to build capabilities, provide stability to the region and to hunt down members of al-Qaida,” the U.S. Defense Department said. “The U.S. provides support to the French mission in the region, but France has the contacts in West Africa,” according to officials traveling with the chairman.

In West Africa, the French language is often spoken, and so French personnel are “integral in developing intelligence in the area,” the U.S. Defense Department reported. “They are also working with the United States to encourage regional nations to work together to combat the threats of armed groups.”

(Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr)

“U.S. forces provide airlift and refueling capabilities to French forces in the region,” the Defense Department added.