Austrian Major General Bernhard Bair assumed command of EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on December 4th 2009. He replaced Italian Major General Stefano Castagnotto as the force's sixth commander since the EU took over peacekeeping duties in the Balkan country from NATO in December 2004.
Born on August 28th 1955 in Zams, Austria, Bair joined the Austrian Army in 1973. He is a graduate of the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, where he completed his three-year officer training in 1979.
Bair was chosen to replace Castagnotto while serving as commander of the Joint Service Support Command of the Austrian Armed Forces, a post he took up in December 2002.
Prior to that, he worked as ordnance officer, instructing officer, logistics officer and deputy commander of the Austrian Armed Force's 1st Supply Regiment. Other assignments in his earlier career include those of deputy commander and chief of staff of the 4th Mechanised Infantry Brigade in Linz (1992-1993) and of deputy commander and chief of staff of the Tyrol Provincial Command.
Bair has also worked at the Austrian Defence Ministry as the deputy head of the ministry's logistics planning and co-ordination division.
He obtained practical knowledge of international peacekeeping operations while serving with the Austrian contingent of the UN-led force in Cyprus in 1981.
From 1999 to 2002, Bair served as Austria's defence attaché to Croatia, as well as his country's non-resident defence attaché to BiH.
As he took over his new EUFOR command duties from Castagnotto on December 4th 2009, Bair pledged to seize every opportunity during his mandate that could pave the way for further improvement of the security situation in BiH.