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NEWS | June 27, 2014

Colorado Guard member welcomed as new NATO Headquarters Sarajevo commander

By Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison NATO Headquarters Sarajevo

SARAJEVO, Bosnia - Army Brig. Gen. Christopher J. Petty, a Colorado National Guard member, assumed duties as the 20th commander and senior military representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, during a ceremony June 25 at Camp Butmir.

Petty took over command from Air Force Brig. Gen. Merle D. Hart, an Air Force Reservist, who spoke fondly of the mission.

The position has been in place since the NATO-led multinational implementation force was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina to support the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in 1995.

"Together European Forces and NATO worked to advance our common efforts [for] the necessary change needed in [Bosnia and Herzegovina]," said Hart, the outgoing commander. "There was progress under our watch, however, much more needs to be done. The cooperation between our organizations is now the standard and we will continue to harmonize our lines of engagement."

Hart went on to thank those who gave support during the severe flooding earlier this year in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and shared a few words about his time at Camp Butmir.

"My sincere commendation to [European Forces'] International Battalion, along with the Maryland National Guard … and other [forces] who assisted in relief operations," he said. "Your rapid response helped shorten the suffering of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina."

According to his bio, Petty served prior to his arrival as the Chief of Staff of the Colorado Army National Guard from October of 2011 to March of 2014, and was responsible for supporting the readiness of every Colorado Army National Guard Unit and its 4,000 Guard members.

"It is a great honor to accept this assignment," Petty said. "Professionally, it represents a commitment from the U.S. and NATO on the importance of this mission and the importance of [Bosnia and Herzegovina] and the region. Personally, it represents an opportunity to get to know this wonderful country and to work with professionals to advance our mutual interests."

"Although I fully acknowledge the complexities here, I am very optimistic about one thing; we all seem to share the goals of making the Armed Forces of [Bosnia and Herzegovina] into a better, more capable military and it is an example of reform and ethnic integration for the entire nation," Petty said.

"Our hope is that this will be a source of real capability, of national pride and of something emulate in other areas," he said.