Today, Wednesday, The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, awarded the IDF Medal of appreciation to the Commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. Joseph Leonard Votel.
The medal of appreciation was awarded to Gen. Votel on the behalf of the Israel Defense Forces, in appreciation of his personal leadership in furthering the exceptional partnership between the militaries.
Gen. Votel’s visit to Israel included discussions with IDF commanders covering several topics of mutual interest, such as the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, regional stability efforts, Operation "Northern Shield" and developments on the Lebanese border.
The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi said: "You established a great relationship of wonderful cooperation, many unprecedented operations have taken place during your tenure, and I stand here with all the military behind me, and I salute you.
You know from all the words that we just heard, that the most humble and accurate expression is “true friend".
So, this is a medal for being a true friend. Thank you very much and I am happy to say that I’m saying this on behalf of Gadi, who worked with you most of the time. This cooperation is something that you both have been promoting so successfully, so it is an issue that we will have to take from here, and advance it as much as we can.
Every time we work with this superpower called the United Sates of America, I remind myself that this is not something that we can or should take for granted.
I salute you and say thank you very much."
Award to Gen. Votel (IDF Spokesperson)
General Joseph Leonard Votel, Commander of United States Central Command responded, "Aviv, thank you very much. It is a great honor for me to be here and receive this award today. I’m nearly speechless and overcome with very strong emotions and very strong feelings.
Gadi, Hannah, thank you for being here and thanks for your key role in helping the development of this relationship. I would just say this, my deep affection and respect for the IDF and the people that make up the IDF, didn’t start when I became the CENTCOM Commander or the SOCOM Commander, it has existed for a very long time.
Some of you may recall that in the early days of the Iraq war I was a senior Colonel and brand new Brigadier General and I was asked to help address this problem we had with IED’s that were killing our soldiers in Iraq.
Frankly we were unprepared to deal with that and as I looked to try to address that for our army and for our Department of Defense, one of the key partners that I came to very early on, was the IDF. And I would just say that we were supported so quickly and so thoroughly by the IDF, which shared everything that they had learnt about this particular threat with us.
This allowed us to begin to move much more quickly, to address this issue. From that point forward, it became very clear to me that this was a great partnership which we had to continue fostering at any cost."