An Army general currently stationed in Naples, Italy, will soon be heading east to take command of the international peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Maj. Gen. Virgil L. Packett II has been chosen to lead the 30-nation Stabilization Force and its mission, Operation Joint Forge. His report date has not been determined, said a statement released by the Department of Defense.

Packett, the assistant chief of staff for operations for NATO’s Regional Command South, will replace Lt. Gen. William E. Ward as the top allied commander in Bosnia.

No official announcements have been made about a future assignment for Ward.

Packett will become the seventh SFOR commander installed at the Sarajevo headquarters. All of his predecessors have been Americans.

The first three commanders, starting with Gen. William Crouch in 1996, held the position along with their duties as U.S. Army Europe commander. That changed during the tenure of Gen. Montgomery Meigs, who relinquished the command in Bosnia to Lt. Gen. Ronald E. Adams in 1999.

The SFOR commander is responsible for all peacekeepers in the country and the three sectors they patrol. Currently, U.S. Brig. Gen. James R. Mason heads Multinational Brigade-North (Tuzla), Italian Brig. Gen. Gian Marco Chiarini commands Multinational Brigade-Southeast (Mostar) and British Brigadier B.W. Barry is in charge of Multinational Brigade-Northwest (Banja Luka).

There are about 12,000 peacekeepers in Bosnia, including about 1,500 U.S. troops.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ricky Lynch will replace Packett at Regional Command South. He is currently serving as chief of staff, KFOR (Main) in Kosovo.

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