NATO Names Pentagon Official as Next Deputy Secretary General

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2010 — A senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cial has been named the next deputy sec­re­tary gen­er­al of NATO.
NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al Anders Fogh Ras­mussen today announced the appoint­ment of Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow, assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty affairs, to take the No. 2 seat at the alliance’s head­quar­ters in Bel­gium on June 1, 2012.

Ver­sh­bow, who served 32 years in the For­eign Ser­vice before his cur­rent Pen­ta­gon post, served as U.S. ambas­sador to NATO from 1998 to 2001. He was the U.S. ambas­sador to the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion from 2001 to 2005 and to South Korea from 2005 to 2008. 

In announc­ing Vershbow’s appoint­ment, Ras­mussen also said he has extend­ed the term of the cur­rent deputy sec­re­tary gen­er­al, Clau­dio Bisog­niero, from its sched­uled expi­ra­tion at the end of Sep­tem­ber 2011 to the sum­mer of 2012. 

Ras­mussen said NATO will ben­e­fit from the exten­sion because Bisog­niero made an “indis­pens­able con­tri­bu­tion” to plans to reform and trans­form NATO’s struc­ture that were agreed upon at last month’s NATO sum­mit in Lis­bon, Por­tu­gal. The body agreed, among oth­er things, to elim­i­nate sev­en head­quar­ters and to reduce head­quar­ters staff by about 4,000 people. 

“I have thought it best to take an ear­ly deci­sion on Ambas­sador Bisogniero’s suc­ces­sor to ensure a smooth tran­si­tion in this cru­cial post,” the sec­re­tary gen­er­al said. “Ambas­sador Ver­sh­bow will take up his new duties on June 1, 2012. I am delight­ed that he will return to NATO head­quar­ters, where he served with such dis­tinc­tion as U.S. ambas­sador in 1998 to 2001.” 

In NATO’s prac­tice of reserv­ing cer­tain posi­tions for spec­i­fied nations, Vershbow’s appoint­ment changes long­stand­ing pro­to­col of reserv­ing the No. 2 posi­tion for Ital­ians. Ambas­sadors of all 28 nations were open to apply for the posi­tion, a Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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