Major-General Luciano Portolano takes over Command of UNIFIL
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today underwent a transfer of command from Major-General Paolo Serra (Italy) to Major-General Luciano Portolano (Italy).
The hand-over ceremony at UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqoura was attended among others by the Lebanese Defence Minister Mr. Samir Mokbel, Member of Parliament Mr. Ali Bazzi representing the Parliament Speaker, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwaji, the Italian Minister of Defence Ms. Roberta Pinotti, the Italian Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Luigi Mario Binelli Mantelli, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL) Mr. Derek Plumbly, UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Ross Mountain, UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Force Commander and Chief of Staff General Michael Finn, Members of Lebanese Parliament, senior officers of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces, General Security and State Security, regional and local government officials, ambassadors and senior UN officials.
Major-General Serra reviewed a UNIFIL Honour Guard and laid a wreath in memory of peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace since 1978. He later signed the Transfer of Authority document and handed over the UN Flag to Major-General Portolano.
“I have received more than I have given,” Major-General Serra said in his farewell address. “I am most grateful to the Lebanese people, in particular the people of the south: your acceptance and support are what motivates us as peacekeepers to always give our best, so as to build a better future for you and your children.”
He expressed his gratitude “to the Lebanese authorities, whose trust has sustained me during this complex assignment and whose doors have always been open to me and my team, in a spirit of honest dialogue and mutual support; to the Lebanese Armed Forces and Security Forces, with whom UNIFIL shares a strategic partnership which is the building block of the implementation of our mandate.”
Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwaji, on behalf of the Lebanese Government, awarded Major-General Serra ‘The National Order of the Cedar – Commander Grade’. Major-General Serra held the command of UNIFIL since January 2012.
Italian Minister of Defence Ms. Roberta Pinotti and United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL) Derek Plumbly also addressed the ceremony.
On assuming charge as Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Portolano said: “In the months to come, I will continue to move forward along the same path: monitoring the cessation of hostilities and fostering the parties’ respect for the Blue Line; maintaining close cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces at the tactical level, as well as continuing our strategic dialogue; supporting the local communities to the best of UNIFIL’s ability, so as to preserve the strong bond of trust and friendship with the people of the south.”
Major-General Portolano has extensive experience with multinational operations, having served as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command West in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq, Kosovo, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. With the United Nations, he served as a Military Observer in the Iraq Kuwait Observation Mission and the Iran Iraq Observation Group. He was also Military Attaché at the Italian Embassy in the United Kingdom. Most recently, he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Joint Operations in the Italian Armed Forces.
Today’s ceremony included a cultural performance by UNIFIL peacekeepers from different nationalities and a photo exhibition depicting the mission’s activities.
UNIFIL comprises over 10,000 troops from 38 countries, supported by over 800 civilian national and international staff. This includes about 800 naval personnel of the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force deployed along the Lebanese coast.
Major-General Paolo Serra speech
Major-General Luciano Portolano speech