Tisha Swart-Entwistle | Combined Arms Center-Training Public Affairs
Three Fort Leavenworth soldiers and a civilian employee were presented French military medals for their efforts supporting exercise Warfighter 21-4 during a ceremony May 13 at Zais Park.
Warfighter 21-4 took months of planning and is considered the largest exercise for the Mission Command Training Program in 35 years and the largest multinational exercise in that same timeframe. The 15-day exercise’s principal units were III Corps, the U.K. 3rd Division and the French 3rd Division. Warfighter 21-4 concluded April 15 at Fort Hood, Texas.
French Army Liaison Officer Col. Francois Mariotti hosted an award ceremony during which he presented awards to Col. Charles Lombardo, deputy commander for Combined Arms Center-Training; Col. Eric Puls, chief of MCTP’s Operations Group Plex; Maj. Peter Coffman, lead planner for Warfighter 21-4; and Myron Reineke, civilian deputy to the MCTP commander.
Mariotti said the training was a milestone in the strategic relationship between the U.S. and French armies.
“At a moment when both armies are modernizing and follow a 10 years’ path toward full capability in high intensity/broad spectrum combat, it was also a particularly beneficial moment for improving training and interoperability,” Mariotti said.
He said the exercise helped with learning how to fight with combined multinational large units in large-scale combat.
“France wants to show its greatest esteem to the American ally and also share that moment with the numerous allies we have all around the world and in our heart,” Mariotti said. “Let France show its gratitude to all of them with presenting to you four Médaille de la Défense nationale (French National Defence Medal).”
The French National Defence Medal is awarded to French civilians and foreign military personnel or civilians who have rendered honorable services particularly important to the defense of France. The medal has three levels: bronze, silver and gold, with gold being the highest level.
Mariotti presented Lombardo and Puls with the gold medals, Coffman with the silver and Reineke with the bronze.
CAC International Liaison Program Director Robert Greene said awards like these are really an honor.
“There have been very few awards at this level that have been generated by actions done here at the Combined Arms Center,” Greene said.
A warfighter exercise is designed for corps and divisions to train for large scale combat operations. Much of Warfighter 21-4 was conducted virtually, so some of the more than 3,000 soldiers involved were scattered across the globe.
During a visit to Fort Hood April 15, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville talked about the work the soldiers and civilians did to support the exercise.
“I’m very proud of what they did. They overcame some significant obstacles to include COVID-19 and because of their untiring efforts they were able to produce a worldclass exercise that makes us a stronger Army, and quite frankly makes us a stronger ally and partner with two very important partners and allies,” McConville said. “It’s quite an achievement if you think about this, you know. This is one of the largest exercises we’ve ever done of this type in the United States, and we had two countries coming to the U.S. during this challenging period.”