Hubert Cottereau, the deputy commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division and a general officer in the French Army, was promoted to the rank of major general during a special ceremony, May 7, 2021, at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Cottereau began serving with 3rd Infantry Division in July 2019. Following his return to France in the coming months, Cottereau will take command of the French army’s 3rd Division.
His role as deputy commanding general is a first-of-its-kind for the U.S. and French armies and was made possible by the U.S. Army's Military Personnel Exchange Program.
The program is designed to strengthen bonds of friendship, understanding, and interoperability between the countries and their respective military organizations.
These partnerships allow foreign officers to serve in the U.S. and to experience the U.S. Army’s customs and courtesies, missions, and daily operations. As the 3rd ID benefited from Cottereau’s expertise, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Todd Wasmund has served as the deputy commander for the French army’s 3rd Division in Marseilles.
The unique promotion ceremony included the rendering of honors of a 21-gun salute, the national anthems of both countries, as well as a gift presentation to spouse Brigitte Cottereau for her commitment to the Soldiers of the division.
A highlight moment included a surprise letter from French Gen. Thierry Burkhard, the French army chief of staff, and a video message by French Lt. Gen. Vincent Guionie, the French land forces commander, who read the official promotion orders and offered his congratulations and support on the important milestone for both armies.
“This promotion ceremony of Brig. Gen. Cottereau in the Unites States by a U.S. Army General is a very great sign of the close ties that both our armies are establishing,” said Guionie, with both American and French flags beside him.
Cottereau’s remarks reflected on honor, humility, and gratitude.
“I am extremely proud to be promoted while being part of the 3rd ID and to have had participated in tightening the links between the U.S. Army and the French army,” he said. “I do love this division. She has and will have a very specific place in my heart, in the Cottereau’s family heart. Third ID is not noisy, not flashy, but truly lethal.”
Cottereau also acknowledged the support of his family and parents. His mother watched the ceremony virtually from France. Cottereau was promoted during the ceremony with the rank insignia his late father once wore.
“Hubert leads the strategic planning for the division,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio Aguto, commander of 3rd Infantry Division. “Now, and over the last two very eventful years, he has overseen everything from top Army priorities like readiness, to our COVID-19 response, as well as the preparations and planning for our warfighter exercise. Under his watch, 3rd Infantry Division was the first in the Army to return to collective training exercises during the pandemic. He helped ensure our brigades were ready for their deployments to Europe and South Korea.”
Over two million U.S. service members deployed to France in defense of shared liberties in World War I. Of these, over 68,000 service members are buried or memorialized at American cemeteries across France. The division commanding general told attendees that there is nowhere more fitting for the relationship to expand than with the 3rd ID.
“So much of our division’s history starts with our fight alongside the French,” Aguto said. “Rock of the Marne” came from our history with the French in World War I. The very patch we wear on our sleeve has historical references to rivers and battles in France.”
The relationship between the U.S. and France dates back to the days of the American Revolution, when thousands of French soldiers fought alongside American troops and provided crucial support in the fight for independence.
“Hubert Cottereau is the epitome of a Dogface Soldier,” Aguto said. “Today we are not only adding a new story to our Army experience, but we are commemorating an important milestone in an incredibly important strategic relationship with our oldest partner and ally.”