U.S.-Russia training exercise postponed until 2007
October 18, 2006
The U.S.-Russian military training exercise scheduled for earlier this fall but postponed by Russia at the last-minute will not take place in 2006, U.S. military spokesmen in Europe said Tuesday.
Instead, the plan is to hold the event next year, perhaps as early as spring, said Navy Lt. Corey Barker, a U.S. European Command spokesman.
Torgau 2006 “has been postponed until 2007,” Barker said.
Scheduled from late September to early October, the 2006 exercise would have included about 220 U.S. troops based in Germany. Among the units invited to Russia to take part were the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment; 5th Signal Command; 21st Theater Support Command; 1st Armored Division; and members of the U.S. Army Europe headquarters staff.
In a statement last month, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the exercise “will have to take place as soon as a related agreement comes into force after ratification by PfP (Partnership for Peace) nations.”
Essentially, the problem was said to involve the status of forces agreement signed in April 2005 by Russia and NATO officials but not yet ratified by the Duma, the Russian parliament. The agreement spells out rules regarding the movement, training and presence of foreign troops on Russian soil.
Early last month, when the Russian military suddenly announced the exercise was being “postponed,” questions arose over the future status of the exercise series and what was behind the deferment. In the Russian press, reasons for the postponement ranged from the unresolved status of forces agreement and the anti-Russian policies of the United States, to the U.S. military’s desire to bring its own vehicles and arms to Russia.
The exercise would have been the third in the Torgau series.
“USAREUR is committed to training with our allies and partners in the Global War on Terrorism,” U.S. Army Europe spokesman Bruce Anderson said in a written response to a query. “The Torgau exercises are an important part of that training.”
However, EUCOM “has agreed to a Russian Federation proposal to postpone Exercise Torgau 06 to allow for passage of Russian legislation consistent with U.S. and Russian policies regarding exercises of this type and scope,” Anderson added. “USAREUR is conducting prudent planning to continue this series of exercises next year, provided the necessary legislation is in place. Due to planning and logistical considerations, there is not enough time to conduct the exercise in 2006.”