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Saturday, June 5, 1999 Published at 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK


General with a tough reputation

British soldiers arrive at Skopje airport for a tour of duty in the Balkans

Nato's representative at talks with the Serbian military is a tough nut.

Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Jackson, 55, has been dubbed "Macho Jacko" by some UK newspapers and is known as "The Prince of Darkness" by his troops.

Kosovo: Special Report
He has been given the task of negotiating the fine detail of Serbian troop withdrawal in order to implement the Kosovo peace plan.

Sir Michael - who prefers to be known as Mike - began his army career learning Russian in the Intelligence Corps and is seen as a highly intelligent and able man who could have succeeded in a political, industrial or academic career.

As commander of Nato's ACE Rapid Reaction Corps, Sir Michael commands the 15,000-strong Nato force which has been built up in Macedonia in anticipation of a settlement to the conflict.

[ image: Mike Jackson...dubbed 'Macho Jacko' by some newspapers]
Mike Jackson...dubbed 'Macho Jacko' by some newspapers
Friday's announcement from Nato that he will represent them at talks with the Serbian military makes it almost certain he will command the Nato force when it goes into Kosovo.

Providing security

The force, known as KFOR, is designed to give the Kosovo Albanian refugees the security necessary to coax them back to their homes.

The Serbian military will perhaps find him more palatable than other commanders as his role so far - co-ordinating humanitarian aid for refugees in Macedonia - leaves him with no Serbian "blood on his hands".

Sir Michael has first-hand experience of peace-keeping in the Balkans.

He commanded the UN implementation force in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1995 and 1996.

Sir Michael was born into a military family and joined the army at the age of 19.

He graduated from Birmingham University in 1967 and transferred to the Paras in 1970 after completing his time with the Intelligence Corps.

Admirer of Wellington

The general, whose military hero is the Duke of Wellington, rose to command the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment's between 1984 and 1986.

He has commanded 3 (UK) Division, spent two years at the Ministry of Defence and also served in Berlin and Northern Ireland.

Sir Michael married Sarah Coombe in 1985.

He has three children, the youngest of whom, Thomas, is eight.

He spends his spare time - not that he will have any in the coming months - travelling, skiing, playing tennis and enjoying music.

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