By Jim DresbachApril 16, 2015
Brig. Gen. Ismail Fathalli, Chief of Staff of the Tunisian Army, received the Legion of Merit Award and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during two April 13 morning ceremonies at the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall and Arlington National Cemetery.
Fathalli's American counterpart, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, presented the medal to the Tunisian general during a Conmy Hall ceremony. Over 150 Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were present for the medal ceremony and the cemetery wreath laying. Among those segments participating were The Old Guard Commander in Chief Guard, The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, The U.S. Army Continental Color Guard, The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," and the Presidential Salute Battery, which rendered gun salutes at both venues.
The North African Army chief of staff inspected The Old Guard troops during the 15-minute ceremony and witnessed a pass in review of The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
During the medal presentation, Fathalli was cited for exhibiting "the highest standards of dedication and professional competence. Under his leadership, the Tunisian Army significantly increased efforts to combat militants and to eliminate terrorist safe havens in Tunisia," according to a proclamation by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, which was read at the Conmy Hall ceremony.
"Brig. Gen. Fathalli displayed tremendous vision in transforming and overseeing changes in military training and education methodology placing great emphasis on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism tactics," stated Carter's proclamation.
The proclamation also noted that Fathalli played a critical role in a partnership between Tunisian and United States special operations forces.
Following the medal presentation at JBM-HH, Fathalli was escorted by Odierno and Maj. Gen. Duane A. Gamble, Deputy G4 Operations at the Pentagon, to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the Tunisian chief of staff honored the unknown Soldiers and American service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery.