GTE Corp. and United Telecommunications Inc. last week announced the appointment of Gabriel A. Battista as president of the Atlantic division of US Sprint, a partnership formed recently by the merging of the two companies' money-losing long-distance telephone subsidiaries.

The companies said the division will be based in the Washington area once the new business is approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department.

The joint venture seeks to meld GTE Corp.'s Sprint -- the nation's third-largest long-distance service -- and United Telecommunications' US Telecom -- the nation's fourth-largest -- into a new company, US Sprint Communications. Both companies are pinning their hopes on the new venture to become a strong competitor with American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and MCI Communications Corp. in the multibillion-dollar long-distance business.

Currently vice president for U.S. sales and marketing of GTE Telenet, Battista said in an interview that he would retain his present responsibilities until approval and begin to take on those of his new job as the new company takes shape. GTE Telenet, a data communications business based in Reston, would become part of US Sprint under the proposed merger.

Battista's varied background in general management, sales and marketing and the technical side of the telecommunications business makes him highly qualified for the new job, said Charles M. Skibo, one of the new division's three presidents.

Battista, who holds masters degrees in electrical engineering and business administration, "represents the combination of technological savvy and marketing know-how we have designed into US Sprint's top management group," Skibo said.

Before joining GTE in 1983, Battista spent 17 years with General Electric Co., where he held a variety of marketing and technical management positions, including general manager of some of the company's international operations.

In addition to Battista, GTE and United Telecommunications said they have recruited Edward W. Carter, former senior vice president for marketing at MCI, to head sales and marketing for the proposed joint venture. PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Lewis Bernstein, former senior trial attorney for the Justice Department's antitrust division, and Douglas J. Behr, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District, have joined the Washington law firm of Mayberry and Leighton as partners.

Tesdata Systems Corp. has promoted Robert Arnold to chief operating officer and executive vice president, with overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the McLean supplier of computer management systems. Three new vice presidents also were named: Mamie Liu, product development; Tom Snyder, sales, and Gene Furtman, network engineering.

Planning Research Corp., the McLean professional services firm, has created two senior corporate staff positions. John A. Lytle was named corporate director for technology development and application, overseeing technology transfer among the company's four operating units. Paul R. Patch was named corporate director of business development.

Three former senior litigators from the Solicitor General's Office of the Justice Department have joined the Washington office of the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt. The new partners are: Andrew L. Frey and Kenneth S. Geller, both deputy solicitors general, and Kathryn A. Oberly, an assistant solicitor general.

Halifax Engineering Inc., an Alexandria technical services firm, has appointed Christopher K. Jones vice president. Jones has been responsible for developing the company's computer services division.

Henningson, Durham & Richardson Inc., an Alexandria architectural and engineering firm, has promoted Michael E. Chateauneuf to the post of regional vice president for the East Coast. HDR also named Michael Zanin, formerly a health-care project manager in the firm's Dallas office, to director of medical programs here.

The Parsons Corp., a Pasadena, Calif. engineering and construction firm, has promoted Joseph K. Bratton to senior vice president and manager of the company's Washington office. Bratton succeeds Joseph Volpe Jr., who is retiring as of April 14 after 30 years as the company's Washington representative. COMMUNICATIONS

Robert S. Horowitz, founding editor of The Montgomery Journal, will retire April 1. A 34-year veteran of the Times Journal Co., Horowitz, 61, has led the suburban paper since its inception as a weekly in 1973 to a daily journal with 40,000 in circulation. Ed Miller, currently managing editor, will replace Horowitz. In addition, Clive Small, former BBC Radio Washington correspondent, has been named editor of Page Two, the world news page of the Journal newspapers.

Andrew A. Gasparich Jr., formerly director of communications services for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and former news director of WTOP-AM radio, has been named vice president for media relations and marketing at Wise & Wrenn Inc., a Washington public affairs firm.

Frank J. Bonora, former program director of the National Italian American Foundation, has been appointed director of public relations and marketing for the Rockville firm of Jeffrey Bigelow Design Group Inc.

Kenneth M. Nelson, head of Elsevier Business Press and Gordon Publications Inc., has been elected to the board of Elsevier U.S. Holdings Inc., the Bethesda-based division of Elsevier, a Dutch communications company.

C4 Media Corp., a cable systems operator in Vienna, has appointed Jeff C. Miller director of legal affairs. Miller was formerly a consultant to the company.

Austin, Bernier Advertising Inc. of Springfield will become Austin, Bernier, Goodhart Advertising with the recent addition of Judi Goodhart, formerly vice president and regional broadcast supervisor for J. Walter Thompson U.S.A. INDUSTRIAL, MANUFACTURING

Vincent Puritano, former comptroller and assistant secretary of Defense during President Reagan's first term, has been appointed to the new post of vice president for government affairs and head of the Washington office of Sperry Corp., a major Defense Department and government contractor. He also is now serving as a senior consultant to the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management.

Sargis & Jones, a general contracting and project management firm specializing in interior construction, has named two additions to its staff: Claude D. Thompson, formerly an assistant project manager with the Leapley Co., and Ralph A. Dietze, recently national purchasing manager of Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc., have been named project managers.

McCormick & Co. Inc. has named Michael A. Cipollaro vice president and managing director for the spice maker's international group. Cipollaro, formerly deputy managing director of the group, succeeds John F. Caffey, who recently retired. BANKING, FINANCIAL SERVICES

Washington Federal Savings & Loan has named Wade Hotsenpiller president and director and Carrol E. Amos senior executive vice president. Both formerly executive vice presidents, Hotsenpiller and Amos will continue to serve as chief operating officer and chief financial officer, respectively. INSURANCE

Directors of Corporate Insurance Management Inc. have elected officers: A. L. Jagoe, chairman of the board; Harry F. Custis, vice chairman and chief executive officer; James W. Rodgers, president and chief operating officer; Gary H. Hurst, executive vice president; William C. Groves, vice president, and Cynthia S. Lewis, secretary.

Union Labor Life Insurance Co. of Washington has announced several promotions: Carole A. Assante, Richard Reidy and William Steigerwalt to vice presidents; John Eden, to second vice president; John P. Morgan to assistant vice president, and John Curran, to assistant secretary.

Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co. has promoted Jerry L. Hulick to the post of general agent in its Washington agency. He had been assistant general agent.