Queen Elizabeth II has bestowed honorary knighthood on retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for being a staunch advocate of defense cooperation between the United States and Britain.

The British Embassy in Washington announced the award on Monday.

Dempsey says in a statement that he's been honored to serve alongside the British armed forces for 40 years. He says he accepted the honor on behalf of the men and women who have sacrificed for the two countries.

Britain's honors system recognizes exceptional achievement and service to the nation, and includes non-British nationals who receive honorary awards for their contribution to the country.