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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony of the Declaration of the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander, to General Michel Roquejeoffre in Rambouillet, France


The President. Mr. President, let me say, I am very pleased to mark this brief visit to your country by honoring a Frenchman of great character and courage, General Michel Roquejeoffre.

General, under your able leadership, sir, French forces displayed a valor that brought great credit to the name of France and contributed to the success of our coalition. Like Lafayette before you, you took the field in service to a larger cause. A grateful Nation gives you thanks. And on behalf of all Americans, it is a privilege and a pleasure to present you the Legion of Merit Degree of Chief Commander.

And now, after translation of that, I will ask Major Cancilla if you would please read the citation, sir.

Major Cancilla. The President of the United States takes great pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit, Degree of Chief Commander, to General Michel Roquejeoffre for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as the commander in chief of the Rapid Action Force during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

General Roquejeoffre assembled and commanded over 16,000 of France's best soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines as a contingent of the largest coalition in modern history. General Roquejeoffre's ability to foster a cohesive and cooperative spirit between all nations resulted in the successful execution of hostilities against one of the world's largest land armies, employment of history's most extensive and impressive air campaigns, and effective maritime intercept and mine operations, and the world's first defense against ballistic missiles.

His air force struck heavily defended targets in Kuwait and was instrumental in neutralizing or reducing a significant number of enemy capabilities, particularly the Iraqi commanding-control-infrastructure and its ability to conduct counterattacks. The French Daguet Division conducted a light-ning breakthrough and encircling movement covering over 150 kilometers in less than 48 hours, and then protected the coalition's flank. French naval forces were active during the entire campaign, conducting escort operations and mine clearing, and actively participating in the ongoing maritime intercept operations.

Throughout Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm General Roquejeoffre led his forces magnificently and displayed the leadership, vision, wisdom, and perseverance required to ensure the victory of coalition forces over Iraq.

Note: The President spoke at 4:47 p.m. on the steps of Chateau de Rambouillet. Maj. Russell Cancilla was Army Aide to the President. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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