Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan, commander of the Israel Air Force, was awarded the U.S. Air Force Legion of Merit medal in a ceremony marking the event last week. The award was presented by U.S. Air Force chief of staff, Norton Schwartz.
A certificate that accompanied the award says Nechushtan was awarded the honor for "his advancement of relations between the armies of Israel and the United States."
In granting the award, the U.S. Air Force acknowledged the help it received from the Israel Air Force in the area of combating terrorist-related activities. The certificate says that knowledge the Israel Air Force shared helped the U.S. Air Force deal with terrorists in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since July 1942, the Legion of Merit has been awarded to people who have made outstanding contributions to the security field. “Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan served commendably as the Commander of the Israeli Air Force,” said the certificate of the award. “He solidifies military ties between the United States and Israel and promoted Israel’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program."
The cooperation covers many fields, including the IAF’s accumulating experience of operational anti-terror activity. The information assisted the U.S. Air Force operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The certificate also says Nechushtan strengthened the Israel Air Force and its operational capabilities, and is a leader in the field of active defense against ballistic missiles. Nechushtan, the certificate continues, demonstrates outstanding leadership and devotion to his country.
Nechushtan is set to retire in May after serving four years as IAF commander. His replacement will be Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the current head of the Israel Defense Forces Planning Directorate.
During his service in the air force, Nechushtan often warned of the growing threat of advanced weaponry reaching both Syria and Hezbollah.
In January, the air force chief said "The most wide-scale military growth in the world, or at least among the widest scales, is happening in the Middle East. Countries across the Middle East are purchasing planes and weapons, and are also manufacturing planes and unmanned aerial vehicles on their own."
Nechushtan also expressed concern of advanced weapons from Syria "slipping" to terrorist groups like Hezbollah. "As regimes become [politically] weaker, the risk of state-level advanced weaponry falling into the hands of terror organizations increases. Israel cannot be apathetic about this," he warned.