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U.S., Russia Expanding Military Ties

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 1997 – American troops can expect to see more of their Russian counterparts in the year ahead as the United States and Russia strengthen their growing military relationship.

U.S and Russian forces will work together in more than 100 exercises, visits and training events this year, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said May 13 after signing a joint statement of military cooperation with visiting Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov.

The agreement builds on ties developed by U.S. and Russian troops working side by side in Bosnia and during Partnership for Peace exercises. It also heralds a new level of cooperative threat reduction and regular interaction between America's National Defense University and Russia's Academy of the General Staff, Cohen said.

The agreement calls for setting up a working group to explore cooperation on military reform, counterproliferation, theater missile defense, post-Bosnia peacekeeping and military education.

Rodionov's visit was his first since becoming Russia's defense chief. He met with Cohen and other Pentagon staff and joined in discussions on U.S. defense budgeting and the Quadrennial Defense Review. He sat in on a roundtable with officers who led the renaissance of the U.S. Army after the Vietnam period, hosted by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis J. Reimer. The Russian defense chief also toured the National Military Command Center and met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rodionov said he is optimistic about long-term cooperation in reforming Russia's armed forces and training military personnel. A DoD official said major Russian military problems include paying the troops and eroding capabilities.

Russian defense leaders want to learn from America's experience rebuilding the military after Vietnam, the official said -- they want to learn how the U.S. recruits and retains volunteers, how it divides responsibilities between the military and civilian branches of government, how it allocates resources among competing services, and how the government interacts with defense industries.

Rodionov expressed particular interest in American NCO training. The last stop on his itinerary was at the Army's 25th Infantry Division NCO Academy in Hawaii. "In our army, we don't have the institution of noncommissioned officers, he said. "I know how strong is the NCO corps in the U.S. Army."

Rodionov said prospects are good for U.S.-Russian cooperation in helping to transition servicemen currently discharged from the military in Russia as well as on peacekeeping operations where Russian and American contingents can work shoulder to shoulder.

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