By U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
Adm. Robert P. Burke, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, presented the Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Adm. Christophe Prazuck, with the Legion of Merit, Aug. 31, 2020.
The award was presented following Prazuck's successful tenure in his current position, which he has held since July 2016.
"France has been by the United States' side since the very beginning of our nation's existence," said Burke. "Our two navies have long held an unparalleled bond, and it is my honor to present you with the Legion of Merit on behalf of the Chief of Naval Operations. Our partnership is a global one as we patrol the high seas to ensure a free and open maritime commons."
Burke bestowed the honor upon Prazuck for his tireless efforts to enhance United States Navy and French Navy interoperability and enhance high-end warfighting skills, providing credible deterrence while simultaneously preparing forces to be ready to respond to any crisis.
Since 2016, ships assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa and the French Navy have closely collaborated on exercises and operations. Most recently, Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) joined forces with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) to patrol the seas together in joint carrier operations in which French Rafael fighter and U.S. F/A-18s cross-decked, landing on both carriers.
Similarly, French frigates FS Chevalier Paul (D621) and FS Languedoc (D653) provided credible support to the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Carrier Strike Group during Operation Inherent Resolve in 2017.
The French Navy also played an integral part in the dynamic and complex April 2018 Syrian missile strikes alongside U.S. and United Kingdom forces, which were conducted in response to Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons. During these strikes, 105 air, surface, and sub-surface naval assets launched cruise missiles against three separate Syrian chemical weapons development sites.
"Adm. Prazuck has been an extraordinary ally and friend to the U.S. Navy," said Burke. "His leadership has been instrumental to our enhanced cooperation, our improved interoperability and our strengthened operational capabilities."
U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with Allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.