The Irish officer who commanded European troops in Chad over the last year is to be honoured by the French government.

Lieutenant General Pat Nash will be awarded the Officier de Legion d'Honnuer by President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris on 18 May.

The medal is France's highest accolade for people who distinguish themselves through civilian or military valour.

The European mission in Chad was taken over by the UN two months ago and 400 Irish troops continue to serve there.

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea said General Nash's hard work and commitment ensured the success of the European mission.

The Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Dermot Earley, said the General had led a credible, professional and impartial force with distinction.

General Nash will retire next month. He is expected to receive several other honours before he steps down at a ceremony in Dublin on 12 June.

He became operational commander of EUFOR TCHAD in October 2007 and has been based in Paris since.

General Nash is originally from Ahane, Co Limerick and has been living in Cork city.