U.S. Army Europe pays tribute to Italian army chief of staff

June 15, 2011

U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

U.S. Army Europe

U.S. Army photo by Mel Tarpley 

U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling (left) congratulates Lt. Gen. Guiseppe Valotto, chief of staff of the Italian army, after awarding Valotto with the U.S. military's Legion of Merit medal for his contributions to building multinational partnerships and alliances, in a ceremony at USAREUR headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, June 15. 

HEIDELBERG, Germany — U.S. Army Europe honored the chief of staff of the Italian army with the presentation of the Legion of Merit medal in a ceremony here June 15.

Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Valotto, who has been chief of staff of Italy's army since 2009, received the award from USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling.

Hertling said the award acknowledges Valotto's long history of dedication to transforming Italy's army while building interoperability with American and partner forces.

"This is a long-awaited award; well earned," Hertling said. He said the U.S. Army could learn much from Valotto's understanding of today's security issues and needs; cited Valotto's experience with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans with making Italy a strong member of NATO and coalition missions; and credited Valotto's "long-term vision" with mapping the course Italy's army will follow as it evolves in the coming years.

Valotto called receiving the medal a great honor and an indication of his strong belief in security cooperation among allies and partners. The general said Italy's commitment to the future and those alliances and partnerships is evidenced by the fact that he has spent the past eight years on missions outside his country.

The Legion is one of several honors Valotto has earned from multinational and partner forces for his achievement. He is the recipient of several NATO awards for service in the Balkans; the French Legion d'Honneur; the Spanish Defence Meritorious Cross; the Gold Medal of the French National Defence, the Meritorious First Class Medal of the Portuguese army; and the German Defence Bronze Meritorious Service Medal.

His Italian decorations include Officer of the Italian Republic Military Order; Italian Army Bronze Medal for Gallantry; Knight of the Grand Cross of the Italian Republic Meritorious Order; the Gold Cross for Long and Distinguished Service, the Gold Medal for Long Command; and other awards for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Italy and abroad.

Valotto received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Armoured Corps in 1968, following schooling at the Italian military academy in Modena. In addition to his numerous command and staff assignments in Italy, he has completed several joint and multinational tours of duty, including service as commander of NATO's Multinational Brigade-North in Bosnia-Herzegovina; as deputy commander of NATO's ACE Rapid Reaction Corps in Rheindahlen, Germany; as commander of NATO's Kosovo Force; as president of the of the Italian High Defence Studies Centre; and as commander of the Italian Joint Operations Headquarters.

The Legion of Merit ranks fifth in the order of precedence of U.S. Army medals, just after the Silver Star. Established by the U.S. Congress in July 1942, the medal is presented to members of American and partner defense services who "have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services." There are four degrees of the medal – Chief Commander, Commander, Officer and Legionnaire. Valotto's award is at the degree of Commander.