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Russia-U.S. Want To Establish a ‘Three-Star’ Military Communications Channel

March 11, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Pentagon said it wants to establish a "three-star" communications channel with Russia concerning operations in Syria, in the context of a more robust deconfliction regime between the two countries operations in and over Syria. The announcement follows the meeting in Turkey among the chiefs of staff of the U.S., Russian and Turkish militaries on March 7-8.

"A working level discussion has taken place to exchange initial thoughts on how such a channel might be established to enhance deconfliction,"

Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, a spokesman for the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told TASS. He said that the new proposals provide "a framework of understanding on what the three-star channel would be discussing. As a reminder, that discussion has only just begun."

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. had earlier said that a three-star communications channel at the level of a U.S. Lieutenant General and a Russian Colonel General has been decided.

"We talked ... to set the conditions where now the three-stars-channel dialogue will take place to actually get to the details of deconfliction,"

the chairman said.

In comments to journalists en route from Turkey and reported by the U.S. Defense Department’s news service, Dunford discussed the results of the three-way meeting in Ankara among himself, the Turkish Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, and Russian Chief of the General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov. Dunford said that the discussion, among other things, was intended to gain a common understanding of the situation in Syria, which he described as "very dynamic."

As of now, Dunford said, by law, the U.S. military cannot operate or cooperate with the Russians. The law Dunford referred to is the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 29, 2014, which includes a provision prohibiting the expenditure of funds on U.S.-Russian military-to-military relations until Russia "returns" Crimea back to Ukraine and abides by the Minsk agreement on settling the conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine. It includes a national security exception if it’s certified by the Secretary of Defense.

Nonetheless, Dunford said Syria is in the midst of a civil war and the battle against ISIS is only one part of it. "The major discussion was to set a common understanding of the situation in Syria as it is unfolding—it is very dynamic," he said. He pointed to the "jumbled" situation in the area around Manbij and Bab, coalition-backed forces, Russian-backed Damascus forces and Turkish-backed forces are operating in relatively close proximity. Some indigenous forces are Kurdish, some Arab, and some a mix of all the religions and ethnicities of the region. In addition to working as part of the coalition, Turkey is running unilateral operations in the region. Some of the local forces operate against ISIS, some against the government and others against other factions.

"I believe enhanced deconfliction to include more robust communications between our people is important to continue to operate safely,"

Dunford said.

"First and foremost, I want to mitigate the risk of miscalculation. In the event of a crisis I want to have an open line of communication so we can talk in real time about what is actually happening and try to address it properly. I think we all know through history that miscalculation and miscommunication can take us in the wrong direction."