(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to IDF) The United States gave Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz the Legion of Merit award on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Gantz was presented the award by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, on behalf of President Barack Obama. The Legion of Merit is granted for achievements and meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding actions. A letter signed by Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that the award was given to Gantz in recognition of his outstanding and noteworthy command of the IDF. Panetta praised Gantz’s command, saying that it ensures that the IDF will be able to stand strong in the face of a wide range of threats. Gantz thanked his American hosts for the award, saying that he accepted it on behalf of all IDF soldiers and commanders and that it represented the strong relationship between the American and Israeli militaries.