Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ward (search), named by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) on Monday as the new security coordinator in the Middle East, has more than three decades of experience in the military, including numerous tours overseas.

Ward, who has been deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe since November 2003, will have a direct line to Rice. She said she expects him to travel to the region in the coming weeks.

"The Palestinians will be the first to tell you that they need help" training, equipping and unifying their security forces, Rice said.

In 2002, Ward took command of the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. He has also served in Egypt, Somalia and South Korea.

Other than his staff assignment as chief of the office of military cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, a short biography provided by the military shows no particular experience with Middle East issues. The military's European Command, to which the Army in Europe reports, also includes Israel among its area of operations.

Ward was commissioned as a lieutenant in the infantry in 1971, and served in a variety of roles since. As a major general, he commanded the 25th Infantry Division (Light), based in Hawaii.

He received his bachelor's degree in political science from Morgan State University in Maryland, and a master's degree in political science from Penn State.

As security coordinator, he will take over functions previously performed by CIA Director George J. Tenet (search) and retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni (search), whose efforts were hampered by flare-ups in violence.

Rice previously said the United States had no plan to appoint a high-level diplomatic envoy to represent the United States in the peace process. The security coordinator would represent a less formal U.S. involvement.