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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February 2005, 17:09 GMT
Profile: Lt Gen William Ward
Lt-Gen William Ward
Gen Ward is not a Middle East specialist
The new US security envoy to the Middle East is a serving military general with a string of tours behind him and a chest full of medals.

Lieutenant General William E Ward ("Kip") follows in the footsteps of, among others, four-star Marine Gen Anthony Zinni and former CIA director George Tenet.

He will be hoping his mission does not end as theirs did - swamped by events and tit-for-tat violence that spun out of control.

Gen Ward gained a master's degree in political science from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor's in political science from Morgan State University before he was commissioned as an officer in 1971.

His military service includes several overseas tours.

He was a brigade commander in Mogadishu, Somalia, when two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. Nineteen US soldiers died during the now infamous subsequent rescue operation.

For a year until October 2003 he commanded the Nato Stabilisation Force in Bosnia-Hercegovina. He has also toured in South Korea and Germany.

Incidentally, his appointment is another expression of the Bush administration's willingness to promote black talent in senior roles.

Military man

Gen Ward will visit the Middle East region in the next few weeks to make an "initial assessment" in his new role, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

Gen Ward, who is married with two grown-up children, has the job of helping to reform Palestinian security forces and encouraging the creation of security contacts between the two sides.

Unlike Gen Zinni, Gen Ward has relatively little experience in Middle Eastern affairs, aside from an 18-month stint in the American embassy in Egypt from February 1998.

Gen Ward is decidedly a military man. His appointment is an expression of renewed American faith in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

But his strong military background also emphasises that achieving understanding between the two sides on security matters is an essential prerequisite to trying to achieve a final political settlement, says the BBC News website's World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds.

He says while the Bush administration is prepared to throw its weight behind this apparent warming in Israeli-Palestinian ties, officials believe trying to achieve a final settlement now would be premature.

Israel has always insisted that Palestinian militant attacks on Israelis must stop before progress can be made in achieving a political solution.

And the Palestinians' new leader Mahmoud Abbas also says he believes Palestinian violence is counter-productive.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




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