Partnerships

France Honors Vice Chairman for Fostering Cooperation Between U.S., French Militaries

July 18, 2019 | BY Jim Garamone

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff received the French Legion of Honor from Philippe Etienne, France's ambassador to the United States, for his personal commitment to strengthening the French-American relationship.

Today's Pentagon ceremony recognized the work of Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva over the past four years to enhance the already strong defense relationship between France and the United States.

A man picks up a medal off a pillow while a decorated airman stands ready to receive the award.
Legion of Honor
French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne presents the French Legion of Honor to Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a ceremony at the Pentagon, July 18, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. James K. McCann
VIRIN: 190718-D-SW162-2033

French and American service members serve side by side in the Sahel, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and as fellow charter members of NATO. 

The relationship goes back to the birth of the United States, with the Marquis de Lafayette serving in the Continental Army, French Gen. Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau leading French troops at Yorktown, and French Adm. Francoise de Grasse, who won the Battle of the Chesapeake against the British in 1781, ensuring the victory of the United States in the American Revolution.

American forces fought in France during World War I and World War II. More recently, French forces supported American special operations personnel ambushed in Niger in 2017. A French aircraft carrier operated as the command for a U.S. Navy task group in the Persian Gulf in 2015. French and American airmen police the skies together in many areas of the world.

Military decoration on a blue background.
French Legion of Honor
The French Legion of Honor was presented to Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his work to enhance French-American military cooperation.
Photo By: Army Sgt. James K. McCann
VIRIN: 190718-D-SW162-2000

The Legion of Honor is France’s most prestigious medal, Etienne said. Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte founded the award in 1802.

''You have been instrumental in furthering cooperation between the United States and the French armed forces,'' the ambassador said. ''This is particularly true regarding your efforts in the enhancement of information sharing and the help you provided for access to munitions needed for the fight in the Sahel.''

Selva also furthered multilateral cooperation, and Etienne particularly highlighted his efforts to increase trilateral cooperation among France, the United Kingdom and the United States. His work, he said, ''ensures our countries will be able to innovate and fight together in the future, and that we will still be interoperable.''

A decorated airman stands with his hand on chest after receiving a medal.
Vice Chairman Honors
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne after receiving the French Legion of Honor during a ceremony at the Pentagon, July 18, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. James K. McCann
VIRIN: 190718-D-SW162-2056

Selva accepted the award on behalf of the many people who worked together in the U.S. and French militaries to enhance cooperation. The work he has done — particularly in the past four years — has been ''some of the most rewarding work of my career,'' Selva said.