U.S. and Russian military establish “a rhythm of consultations”

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov signing agreements at the Pentagon.

From Lisa Daniel, Armed Forces Press Service:  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov opened the door to military-to-military relations between their countries that have been mostly closed for the past two years, Pentagon officials said today.

Today’s meetings went a long way to re-establish military ties, according to a senior Pentagon official who took part in today’s meetings and spoke on background.

Today’s biggest advance was “the renewal of dialogue,” the official said.

“It sounds procedural, but this is something that has been missing in the last few years,” he said. “These are important confidence-building steps to overcoming a legacy of suspicion and mistrust that has not been eliminated between our defense establishments& ldquo;

Gates hopes today’s visit will establish “a rhythm of consultations,” the official said.
The leaders signed a memo outlining the U.S.-Russia military relationship that places defense cooperation as a cornerstone of broader relations, and notes shared threats and similar challenges.

They also signed an agreement creating a defense relations working group that is to resolve issues in armed forces reform and transformation, defense policy priorities and national security, transparency and confidence-building, and regional and global security.

Gates said at the signing that he and Serdyukov will meet at least once a year and that the two nations will have more frequent exchanges among military officials. …

The two discussed a range of issues including defense reforms, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, regional and global security, operations in Afghanistan, as well as the northern supply route through Russia and other countries the United States and NATO use as a main supply route into the combat theater, officials said.

Among other things, the leaders agreed to resume bilateral military exercises and a troop exchange that will start with three Russian soldiers attending a U.S. Army noncommissioned officer school in Germany, they said.  (photo: Getty)

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