IAF Commander Visits US, Receives Legion of Merit

Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin met with senior commanders from the US Air Force and the Department of Defense, and was awarded the US Legion of Merit for his “exceptionally meritorious service”

Maj. Gen. Norkin received the award (Photo: IAF)

The commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin recently returned from a visit to the United States, where he met with senior commanders from the United States Air Force and the Department of Defense with whom he participated in strategic and operational discourse.

Among the senior officers with whom Maj. Gen. Norkin met with are Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force; General James Holmes, Commander of Air Combat Command; John C. Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Lt. Gen. David Allvin, Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy; and the Director of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, Lt. Gen. Eric Fick.

Maj. Gen. Norkin presented a strategic overview to the senior commanders while referring to recent events in the Middle East and the challenges faced by the IDF these days.

“The cooperation between the Israeli Air Force and the United States Air Force is currently at an unprecedented situation, in terms of depth and operational relevance,” said Norkin.

In a statement, the Israeli military said that the visit is of great importance for understanding the IDF’s interests, especially in light of the operational intensity of the current period. The visit contributed to understanding the needs of the IAF towards future aid agreements and continued collaborations with the F35, the IDF added.

Legion of Merit

As part of the visit, Maj. Gen. Norkin was awarded the US Legion of Merit. The IAF Commander received the commendation as a symbol for the close relationship between the two forces and as a token of appreciation for the IDF and the IAF’s service members, and their role in the close cooperation with the US military.

The Legion of Merit can be awarded by the US Armed Forces to foreign military and political officials who “distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services,” according to US law. 

Norkin was presented with the award by UASF Chief of Staff Gen. Goldfein in Washington on Sunday, the same day that Hezbollah fired several Kornet anti-tank missiles towards an IDF vehicle along the Lebanese border.

“The US Air Force brings with it a multitude of operational capabilities, while the Israeli Air Force brings speed, flexibility and operational experience. Combining forces leads to better security of both countries,” said Goldfein while presenting the award.

Maj. Gen. Norkin received the award “for exceptionally meritorious service as Commander of the Israel Air Force, from 14 August 2017 to 29 August 2019. During this period, General Norkin’s exemplary leadership and vision significantly enhanced the cooperation and partnership between the United States and Israel. General Norkin directed and oversaw the achievement of F-35 ‘Adir’ operational capability for both the Block 3i and 3F aircraft. These significant milestones guaranteed Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge in the Middle East region while greatly contributing to the security of the State of Israel.

“General Norkin’s strong support for the Air Senior National Representative forum encompassing operational, maintenance, logistics, munitions, medical, safety, science and technology cooperation continues to reap mutual benefits to United States Air Force and Israel Air Force Airmen. These interactions contribute to improved operational readiness and effectiveness.

“General Norkin’s strategic vision for the future of the Israel Air Force was the driving force for hosting the Israel Senior Air Force Conference in May 2018, showcasing the impressive capabilities of the Israel Air Force while promoting improved relationships with senior air force leaders from the United States, Europe, and Asia.

“General Norkin’s mandate for maintaining top level operational readiness has the Israel Air Force continuing to hone warfighting skills through numerous combined large forces exercises with the United States Air Force including the RED FLAG ALASKA, ADVANCED AIRCREW TACTICS AND TRAINING COURSE, BLUE FLAG, JUNIPER COBRA and JUNIPER FALCON. These exercises advance the cooperation and knowledge of both air forces while improving the effectiveness of all Airmen.

“General Norkin’s superior effort, outstanding leadership, and personal initiative reflect great credit upon himself, the Israel Air Force, and his country.”

Several IDF Chiefs of Staff have also received the prestigious award, including Gadi Eizenkot, Benny Gantz and Gabi Askenazi. In 2017, Gen. Goldfein awarded former IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel the same honor. 


[Sources: IAF website, The Jerusalem Post]