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Gen. Van Ovost awarded French National Order of Merit

His Excellency Laurent Bili, French ambassador to the United States, presents the French National Order of Merit to Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander, U.S. Transportation Command Sept. 14, 2023, at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Auburn Braithwaite)

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WASHINGTON  – French Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Laurent Bili, presented the French National Order of Merit to Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), during a ceremony Sept. 14.


The Order of Merit, established by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963, recognizes those who've demonstrated exceptional service to France. Only 300 foreigners receive the award annually.  


Van Ovost joined that elite list with honorees, which also includes the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley; Gen. T. Michael Moseley; and Gen. John Raymond.



As she received her insignia of merit, a six-armed Maltese asterisk enameled blue, suspended from a wreath of intertwined oak leaves, Van Ovost emphasized that the award is more than a recognition of her efforts but is a "symbol of a strong continued partnership" between the two nations.


"This award is not about my personal action but about our unity in effort and purpose — an enduring alliance," the general said.


She was honored for her accomplishments in 2015 while serving as a one-star deputy director for Joint Staff politico-military affairs for Europe, NATO, and Russia. 


During this tenure in European affairs, the general, alongside her friend and colleague then Brig. Gen. Vincent Cousin, French Defense Attaché, navigated a dynamic geopolitical landscape where Russia's annexation of Crimea and the rise of terrorist factions dictated significant policy changes and "threatened shared strategic interests” — a scenario that would serve as a precursor to Russia's subsequent attack in Ukraine.


While these events occurred nearly a decade ago, Van Ovost noted two facts remain true today: “First, close ties, like those between France and the U.S., demonstrate the benefits of cooperation,” she said. “Second, France is a cherished friend and a clear leader across our alliance, providing extraordinary military capabilities worldwide.”



As the current USTRANSCOM commander, Van Ovost highlighted the significance this enduring partnership has in support of military operations today, from the aid delivered to Ukraine against escalating Russian threats and the two nations' contributions to the Movement Coordination Center Europe, which has greatly augmented strategic airlift, air refueling and surface transport capabilities in the region.


For Van Ovost, the message is clear: unity ensures strength and resilience, and this alliance will "sustain global stability and counter adversaries that seek to undermine a free and open global order."


As the ceremony concluded, the general pointed toward the medal affixed to her lapel, noting that it is more than a symbol but a reminder of these nations' strong cooperation and shared goal for a secure and peaceful future.

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