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U.S. Army Europe Commander Gen. B.B. Bell is in Moscow this week to plan for next year’s military exercises involving the United States and Russia.

Next year’s exercise will be the third time the armies of the one-time bitter enemies have trained together.

Bell was to meet with Col. Gen. Alexei Maslov, commander of Russian Land Forces, to plan for the exercise named Torgau in recognition of the German city where Russian and U.S. forces came together as victors in the last days of World War II.

The first such exercise was in May 2004, at a Russian training facility near Moscow. It lasted a week and centered on commanders working as a combined staff to develop a plan to defend a fictional third country from attack.

It was the first time that Russia and the U.S. commanded an exercise together, according to Bob Purtiman, a U.S. Army Europe spokesman.

The second exercise, last May, was larger and more involved. Ground forces were brought together to train, with a week in Russia and another in Grafenwöhr, Germany.

U.S. soldiers from the 1st Armored Division operated T-72 tanks, fired Russian small arms, toured the Kremlin and tried the vodka. The Russian soldiers, in turn, drove Bradley fighting vehicles and marveled at how “high- tech” the U.S. weaponry was.

In recent years, Russian and American forces have worked together on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosovo, but largely as separate entities.

The Torgau exercises were designed to develop contacts and build bilateral cooperation, Purtiman said.

Bell was scheduled to visit headquarters of the Moscow and Leningrad military districts and the War History Museum of Armored Vehicles and Equipment in Kubinka near Moscow, according to media reports. His wife, Katie, was to visit a secondary school attended by Russian officers’ children and meet with the wives of officers from the Moscow military district.

They were also scheduled for sightseeing tours of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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