Russian and American soldiers: Brothers in arms?
Following Atlas Vision 2013 — the summer’s joint Russian-American combined staff peacekeeping exercises that took place in July in Auerbach, Germany — two officers of the reconnaissance sub-unit of the Russian peacekeeping unit received medals from the governor of the American state of Georgia.
The 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade of the Georgia National Guard had been performing joint exercises with Russian servicemen from the Central Military District.
“Military personnel in the [Russian] forces are being trained in a new preparation program for peacekeeping forces. The program was adopted in 2012 and includes duty at checkpoints and roadblocks, as well as the organization of patrols on compartments of terrain that stand between warring factions. The servicemen also study norms of international humanitarian law and take complete, intensive language study,” said Yaroslav Roshchupkin, official spokesman of the Central Military District.
A hot peace after a cold war
The end of the Cold War radically altered the nature of U.N. peacekeeping operations. The U.N. Security Council started conducting larger and more complicated peacekeeping operations, often meant to assist in fulfilling far-reaching peace agreements between participants in national conflicts. In addition, such operations began to encompass more non-military elements.
In recent years, Russian servicemen have repeatedly participated in the prevention or settlement of sectarian and international disputes in former Soviet republics, as well as in distant countries. These places are far flung — South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Tajikistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Metohija, Angola, Chad, Sierra Leone, Sudan.
Leadership in the U.N.’s mission of military observers is another important aspect of the Russian Federation’s participation in international peacekeeping operations. The observers serve in the Middle East, Western Sahara, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sudan. Incidentally, in numeric terms, Russia is one of the world’s top providers of U.N. military observers.
Furthermore, Russian servicemen belong to the peacekeeping force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This force, which was formed in October 2007, was first and foremost dedicated to participating in peacekeeping operations inside member states of the CSTO; peacekeeping operations in states outside the CSTO are undertaken on the basis of a mandate issued by the organization or the U.N.
The “blue helmets” of the new millennium
The dawn of the new millennium saw a marked shift in the domestic peacekeeping military corps.
Based on the experience of the Balkan peacekeeping operation, a decisive conclusion on the need to expand into the Military Forces of the Special Administrative Subunits was reached.
As a result, the 15th Motorized Infantry Peacekeeping Brigade was created. Its soldiers may belong to the peacekeeping forces by a decree of the president of the Russian Federation and in the interests of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the U.N., OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), NATO-Russia Council, and, if necessary, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Brothers against terror
Russia is adopting large-scale measures to thwart the global terrorist threat. In May 2012, the Fort Carson U.S. Army base hosted the first joint antiterrorism exercises between commandos from Russia and a sub-unit of the American Special Operations Ground Forces.
According to official information from Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the second round of such training exercises is scheduled for the last 10 days of August 2013 in Pskov, on the terrain of the 76th Guard Assault Combat Division.
A Russian-American military training drill is an outstanding opportunity for both countries to use their military experience in a practical way, and with peaceful objectives.