U.S. and Russian Staffs Conduct Groundbreaking Exercise

Article excerpt

Russian and American military staffs conducted a historic and important training exercise from May 17 to 22 at the Russian Combined Arms Academy in Moscow. Torgau 2004, named after the German city where American and Russian soldiers first met in the final days of World War II in Europe, was the first ever exercise of this magnitude and represents a major milestone in the evolution of the U.S.-Russian military relationship.

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin agreed that the United States and the Russian Federation would embark on a new strategic relationship based on trust and mutual cooperation. Since that pledge, the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) has conducted a number of exchanges with senior officers of the Russian ground forces, and Russian observers have visited U.S. combat training centers. While these were primarily orientations, Torgau 2004, a command post exercise, focused on combined operational- and tactical-level planning. It involved U.S. and Russian general officers and staffs working side-by-side for the first time as a single, integrated headquarters staff. USAREUR designated the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force (SETAF) (Airborne) as the proponent for planning and executing the exercise.

"This was a tremendously successful training event. Our goal was to enhance our ability to work together and to promote better understanding of each other's operational concepts. I think we clearly achieved that goal," said Brig. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, the Torgau 2004 deputy exercise director and the SETAF commanding general.

U.S. and Russian forces have worked together previously in Bosnia and Kosovo, but with Russian forces no longer deployed in support of the Stabilization Force or Kosovo Force, USAREUR officials believe a vibrant U.S.-Russian exercise program is key to increasing interoperability at the tactical and operational levels to meet future challenges.

Torgau 2004 used a notional scenario in which a U.S.-Russian combined task force, operating under a U.N. mandate, assisted an allied third country as it defended itself from foreign aggression. Personnel from the SETAF headquarters and the Russian Combined Arms Academy formed the staff of the combined task force. Students from the Combined Arms Academy served as the staff of the Russian motorized infantry brigade, while cadre from U.S. Army Europe's 7th Army Training Command served as the staff of the U.S. airborne infantry brigade. Both the combined task force staff and brigade staffs developed detailed operational plans.

"I would say one of the biggest highlights has been to have the opportunity to see how the American side works their military decision-making process-to watch this, to evaluate this and then to go ahead and provide our variant of the military decision-making process from the Russian side," said Gen. Lt. A.Y. Potapov, the Torgau 2004 exercise director and the deputy commandant of the Russian Combined Arms Academy.

"The fact that we were able to get together and jointly work on the military decision-making process, working out and developing courses of action is very important and very significant," Potapov said.

The conduct of the exercise occurred in three phases. During the first two days of the exercise, the Russian and U.S. sides presented academic instruction on how each plans and conducts defensive operations at the brigade level. The third through fifth days of the exercise were focused on brigade staffs developing staff estimates and operations plans, with the combined task force staff providing planning guidance and approval of brigade plans. …