(AP, AKI, KFOR - 29/08/08; NATO Rapid Deployable Corps)
Italian Lieutenant General Giuseppe Emilio Gay took up his post as KFOR commander on August 29th 2008. He succeeded French Lieutenant General Xavier Bout de Marnhac, who was in the post when Kosovo declared independence on February 17th. Gay is the 13th commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping force since its deployment in Kosovo in June 1999.
Born on January 13th 1950 in the northern Italian municipality of Roveredo in Piano, Gay holds a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in strategic sciences from the University of Turin. He also has a Bachelor's degree in international and diplomatic sciences from the University of Trieste and a post-graduate degree in classical sciences from the Accademia Agostiniana -- Lateran University of Rome.
During his nearly 40-year military career, Gay has served in numerous other posts of increasing responsibility. After completing the basic and advanced courses of the Italian Army General Staff College he served at the North Eastern District's Estate & Facilities Office, the Army General Staff's Personnel Division, the 5th Army Corps' HQ, the Army General Staff's Logistic Division and the 1st Command Force of Defence.
In his earlier career, as a captain, Gay commanded a tank company at the 13th "M.O. Pascucci" Tank Battalion. Prior to that, he served as a first lieutenant with the 182nd "Garibaldi" Armoured Regiment. He was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1971 after completing his studies at the Italian Military Academy in Modena.
Gay assumed his post in Kosovo after serving as commander of the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps (NRDC), based in Italy, from September 4th 2007 to August 26th 2008.
Speaking at the NRDC change of command ceremony in Solbiate Olona, near Milan, Gay said he was a "strong supporter of the multinational environment" and that he would take up his new job as commander of KFOR "with enormous pride and pleasure".
Gay has gained considerable international experience also through his previous assignments as commander of KFOR's Multinational Task Force West (MNTF-W) in Pec from 1999 to 2000 and then as deputy commander of KFOR from 2003 to 2004. He was then appointed deputy commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. During his three-year service in that post, he was deployed as Deputy Commander (Stability) of ISAF IX in Kabul in 2006.
Previous assignments that contributed to Gay's command experience include commander of Italy's 7th Tank Battalion "M.O. Di Dio" in Vivaro, commander of the 1st Armoured Regiment in Teulada and deputy commander and commander of the 132nd "Ariete" Armoured Brigade in Pordenone. It was during that assignment he was posted to Kosovo for the first time to head KFOR's MNTF-W.
Gay has received numerous decorations, including the Italian Army Bronze Medal for Gallantry, the First Class Medal "Don Alfonso Henriques" of the Portuguese Army, the German Army Gold Cross for Honour, and the Meritorious Officer Cross with Swords of Malta's Sovereign Military Order. He also holds the title of Commander of the Italian Republic Order of Merit and the title of Knight of the Italian Military Order.
Gay is the fourth Italian general after Carlo Cabigiosu (October 2000 - April 2001), Fabio Mini (2002-2003) and Giuseppe Valotto (2005-2006) to serve as head of KFOR, which currently numbers 16,000 troops from 33 contributing nations.