Three Fort Leavenworth Soldiers and a civilian employee were presented with French Military medals for their efforts supporting exercise Warfighter 21-4 (WFX 21-4) during a ceremony May 13, 2021 at Zais Park, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
WFX 21-4 took months of planning and is considered the largest exercise for the Mission Command Training Program (MCTP) in 35 years and the largest multinational exercise in that same timeframe. The 15-day exercise concluded on April 15 at Fort Hood, Texas and the principal units involved were III Corps, the UK’s 3rd Division and the French 3rd Division.
A warfighter exercise is designed for corps and divisions to train on large scale combat operations. Much of the exercise is 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, Chief of Staff of the Army, 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 and because of their untiring efforts they were able to produce a world class 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.”
French Army liaison officer Col. Francois Mariotti hosted the award ceremony where Combined Arms Center-Training Deputy Commander Col. Charles Lombardo, MCTP Commander Col. Eric Puls, MCTP WFX planner Maj. Peter Coffman and MCTP Deputy Myron Reineke received the awards. Coffman was the lead planner for WFX 21-4 and Puls was the chief of Ops Group Plex during the exercise.
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 towards 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 (gold being the highest level).
Mariotti presented Lombardo and Puls with gold medals, Coffman with silver and Reineke with bronze.
Combined Arms Center 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.