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The Cohen Group has signed up former NATO Supreme Commander Joseph Ralston as its new vice chairman.

The 59-year-old Ralston was also named recently to the board of directors for Bethesda, Md.-based defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp.

Former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen formed the Cohen Group back in 2001 to advise clients on policy and geopolitical issues, and the company has a “strategic alliancef with lobbying firm Piper Rudnick. Cohen was a three-term Republican Senator from Maine before becoming Defense secretary in the latter part of the Clinton administration.

Ralston spent 37 years in the U.S. Air Force, capping off his career with assignments as commander of the U.S. European Command as well as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He was pivotal in the expansion of the Atlantic Alliance in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ralston also served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He joined the Air Force in 1965 out of Miami University in Ohio, and saw extensive action during the Vietnam War, including flying 147 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam.

He later received a master’s in personnel management from Central Michigan University.

Welcome to Verizon. John Czwartacki, a former top aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), has been named executive director of strategic policy coordination for Verizon Communications.

Czwartacki has held a variety of Washington jobs on and off Capitol Hill, including serving as a press aide to then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp and Reps. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.).

A graduate of George Washington University, Czwartacki found himself in the middle of a media maelstrom when he took the Lott job at the start of then-President Bill Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial in 1999.

He left Capitol Hill to work for the public relations firm Greener and Hook in September 2000, and then moved over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency early in the Bush administration.

Forest Pal. The American Forest & Paper Association has hired Elizabeth VanDersarl to head up its Congressional affairs office.

VanDersarl had been serving as counsel for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and had done a stint at the Republican National Committee.

She also worked for the Luntz Research Companies and had been a prosecutor in Illinois.

VanDersarl graduated from St. Mary’s College in 1992.

She earned her law degree from the University of Notre Dame.

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