MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
U.S. Air Force Col. Stephen Renner, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies professor, was awarded the French Médaille de la Défense Nationale (National Defense Medal) at the gold level on Oct. 17, 2018, here.
French Air Force Col. Olivier Kaladjian, Air Attaché, presented Renner the medal for valiant actions during a deployment in 2017.
While deployed at the Combined Joint Operations Center in Iraq, Renner was in charge of target engagement, a position where he worked closely with many French artillery troops.
"It was an honor to serve with the French artillerymen of Task Force Wagram,” Renner said. “They demonstrated admirable tenacity and flexibility employing their 155mm cannon against ISIS forces in the area around Mosul. Their ability to fire conventional munitions as well as sound and smoke rounds helped the Combined Joint Operations Center-Erbil solve the difficult tactical problems presented by an enemy who terrorized Iraqi civilians and used them as shields against Coalition forces."
Renner said that he especially appreciated that Kaladjian, a 2010 graduate of SAASS, not only notified him of this award, but also traveled to present it.
“We are here to celebrate the contribution of a great officer to the fight of the coalition against (Islamic extremists),” Kaladjian said. “The French troops of Task Force Wagram reported the relentless efforts of Colonel Stephen Renner in favoring their integration in the combined and joint fight. Beyond his professionalism, they enjoyed thanks to you, sir, a climate of confidence and camaraderie that definitely contributed to the efficiency of our engagement in the operation.”
He said that the French troops recalled a specific operation when Renner’s superior contribution allowed them to safely and effectively engage their guns in a very difficult fight.
“You demonstrated, sir, on that occasion your qualities as a true warrior,” Kaladjian said.
As a former SAASS student himself, Kaladjian emphasized the importance of the school and Renner’s roles in helping not only maintain, but also strengthen the U.S. and French alliance. He said part of the significance of presenting this medal here is the large French officer population of SAASS.
“Colonel Renner, this National Defense Medal recognizes your contribution to the defense of our common security, our common values of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité, and in the name of the French Republic I just want to say, Merci!,” Kaladjian said during the medal presentation.