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(photo credit: US Department of Defense)
The US administration has appointed Maj.-Gen. Keith W. Dayton to replace General William Ward as the security coordinator working with Israeli and Palestinian forces.
Dayton has little experience in the Middle East conflict, as did his predecessor. In his latest post, Dayton headed the Iraq Survey Group, a team of US military and intelligence experts that was sent to Iraq shortly after the fall of the old regime, in order to comb the country in search of evidence of weapons of mass destruction, which were assumed to be produced in the Saddam Hussein era.
The survey group reached the conclusion that there was no evidence of the existence of any kind of active chemical, biological or nuclear weapon projects in Iraq.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Dayton to the job during her Middle East tour. Dayton will be responsible of ensuring that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority live up to their security commitments, regarding fighting terror and violence, allowing free movement and coordinating between Palestinian and Israeli security forces.
One of the main responsibilities of the US coordinator is to help the Palestinian Authority consolidate its security forces and regain the ability to fight terrorism and street violence.
Dayton's career went through several posts that involved policy and diplomacy. He served as the American Defense Attach in Moscow, and was the deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in charge of political-military affairs. Dayton was also in charge of Human Intelligence in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Diplomatic sources in Washington said Wednesday that they have not encountered Dayton in the Israeli-Palestinian arena and that he has not dealt directly with this issue in his previous posts.