This report originally published at defense.gov.
BRUSSELS, Jan. 15, 2018 — The U.S. military draws its strength from the nation’s strong alliances, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today at a ceremony in which one of those allies recognized his contributions.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford received the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from his German counterpart, Gen. Volker Wieker, during a ceremony at the residence of German Ambassador to NATO Hans-Dieter Lucas. The chairman is here for a meeting of the alliance’s military committee beginning tomorrow.
Dunford received the award for his service as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and for his time as the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Tackling Complex Challenges Together
“One thing is clear, General Dunford: in all your capacities, you have been a champion of collective security, of cooperation and of dialogue — not the least, with Germany,” the ambassador said. He praised the general’s efforts to get nations to work together to tackle the complex security challenges around the globe.
Wieker and the ambassador stressed Dunford’s effort in effecting the NATO alliance’s transformation. “At a time when the world seems to be coming loose from its mooring, it is all the more important for the political West to stand together to maintain peace and preserve the rules-based international order,” Lucas said.
The United States military is a powerful force, but at its heart is the network of allies that the United States has developed since World War I, the chairman said.
Dunford said the United States has no more important, effective or vibrant alliance than NATO – 29 countries pledged to collective defense.
More Than a Military Relationship
“The relationship that the United States has with Germany is about a lot more than a military-to-military relationship,” he added. “But the military-to-military relationship is a foundational element to the broader strategic relationship.”
Even the closet allies sometimes disagree, but the military relationships allow the United States and Germany to plow through the disagreements and work together, the chairman said. “We have particularly had that over the past 16 years of shared hardship in a combat environment,” he added. “One of the things I am particularly proud of in my time in uniform is the privilege to serve alongside the German army in combat.”
Germany has more than 1,000 service members in Afghanistan and 300 in Iraq. “This award really is a reflection of the strength of the military-to-military relationship … between our two countries,” Dunford said.
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