Briton takes over command : D-DAY IN BOSNIA

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The Independent Online
Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Walker, 51, took over yesterday as the general commanding international forces in Bosnia, writes Christopher Bellamy.

As commander of the Nato Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), he has in effect replaced the former UN commander, Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith, although he will report to US Admiral Leighton Smith, who will also be based in Sarajevo.

General Walker is the second British general to command the Nato Rapid Reaction Corps, which was set up in to react to contingencies like Bosnia. The "Ark", as it is known, can draw on up to 10 Nato divisions although only two or three would be chosen for any specific task. In Bosnia, General Walker's "Ark" has three divisions, each 20,000 strong, under its command, one US-led, one British and one French. Each division is itself multinational: the British will include two brigades, one British and one Canadian, for example. The ARRC headquarters comprises about 2,000 staff, mostly British, who will be based in Sarajevo.

General Walker was born in what was then Southern Rhodesia. He taught at a preparatory school for 18 months before attending Sandhurst. In 1966 he was commissioned into the Royal Anglian Regiment.

He has served as an infantry officer in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. He is a qualified pilot and wears the wings of the Army Air Corps, of which he is the Colonel Commandant. He has spent most of his career in Germany, but was Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff from 1982 to 1985.