PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron awarded France’s highest medal of honor to the U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, on Friday for his role in coordinating support for Ukraine and for his more than 40-year military career spent in defense of democracy.
Milley, who is traveling in France to attend ceremonies at Normandy to mark the 79th anniversary of D-Day, is close to finishing a four-year term as the top U.S. military officer and plans to retire when his tenure as chairman ends Sept. 30.
Macron awarded Milley the order of Commander of the Legion of Honor at a closed ceremony at the Élysée, the presidential palace. The medal was created by French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. It is awarded to about 2,000 citizens and about 300 foreigners each year for defense of French values.
Milley called the award “an incredible honor from a nation that is our oldest ally,” which the U.S. has fought alongside from the Battle of Yorktown through both world wars to as recently as Afghanistan, when French soldiers served with Milley during his time as a commander in Afghanistan.
In a statement announcing the award, Macron’s office said it would “pay tribute to the strength and quality of the ties of military cooperation that unite our two countries, and to General Milley’s eminent role in this relationship.”
Earlier this year, Macron awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his country’s stand against Russia’s invasion.
Russian President Vladimir Putin received the award in 2006. Macron has considered stripping Putin of the honor but has said a decision to do so “should be taken at the right moment.”
Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.