Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi met with U.S. General Mark Milley, at the Defense Ministry Headquarters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Milley’s term as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will end. with his upcoming retirement, and he made the farewell visit before departing Israel.
As part of the reception, Milley was met by Gallant and Halevi with an honor guard and was presented with the General Staff Medal of Appreciation to honor his service and the partnership between the American and Israeli militaries during his tenure.
“Your time was defined by unprecedented joint actions and operative coordination in which we significantly improved stability in the Middle East,” Halevi told Milley.
“The strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. continues to be a significant pillar of our national security, and it has been strengthened over the past two years with the transition of the IDF to CENTCOM, under your leadership and command,” Halevi added.
Milley oversaw Israel's participation in several joint military exercises, including the first joint naval exercise between Israel, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, and the “Juniper Oak” exercise in January, which one U.S. defense official called “the most significant exercise between the United States and Israel to date.”
Gallant called Milley “a true friend of Israel" and personally thanked the general "for his contribution to the security of the State of Israel.
“General Mark A. Milley is one of the most significant, true friends of the State of Israel, as well as a partner in our common mission to achieve stability and security,” Gallant said at the ceremony.
He also stated that “the State of Israel recognizes and appreciates Gen. Milley’s cooperation within the framework of joint efforts in facing the Iranian threat, in both overt and covert activities, which shaped our region.”
Milley responded by referring to the “common values and interests” of the U.S. and Israel, saying, “I wish the IDF and the civilians of the State of Israel regional peace and security.”
Last week, some local news sites claimed that Milley’s visit was meant to assess Israel's military fitness and readiness due to refusals by some volunteer reservists to serve in protest of judicial reforms.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.