ROME: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon Monday appointed Italian general Luciano Portolano to head the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
Portolano will succeed his compatriot Paolo Serra, who is leaving the post on July 24.
Portolano, a 54-year-old major general, has had a long military career since joining the Italian army in September 1981. Most recently, he has served as the deputy chief of staff for joint operations in the Italian armed forces. Previously, he was the commander of Italy’s “Sassari” mechanized brigade.
He also has extensive experience with multinational operations and out-of-area operational deployments.
The general previously commanded the International Security Assistance Force Regional Command West in Afghanistan. With the ISAF, he worked closely with the international community, including the U.N. Assistance Missions in Afghanistan in the implementation of Security Council resolutions.
He also served as a commander in Iraq, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He served as a military observer with the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission and the U.N. Iraq-Iran Observation Group between 1990 and 1992. He was also a military attache at the Italian Embassy in the United Kingdom.
Portolano holds a bachelor of arts in strategic sciences, a master’s degree in integrated management system and human sesources developments and management, and a master’s degree in strategic sciences.
Portolano, who was born in Agrigento, Italy, in 1960, is married with two children.
Italy is one of the main troop contributors to UNIFIL, a multinational force established in 1978 to monitor the border between Lebanon and Israel. It consists of 10,200 soldiers.
In his announcement, the U.N. secretary-general also expressed his gratitude to Serra for his excellent service and leadership of UNIFIL over the past two years and a half.