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New Deconfliction Plan with Russia Announced at Pentagon

May 20, 2017 (EIRNS)—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford announced at the Pentagon Friday that a new counter-terror policy in Syria has been adopted by the U.S. and Russia, to allow operations in the same regions.

"We had a proposal that we’re working on with the Russians right now," Dunford said.

"I won’t share the details, but my sense is that the Russians are as enthusiastic as we are to de-conflict operations and ensure that we can continue to take the campaign to ISIS and ensure the safety of our personnel,"

As the Syrian forces, with Russian support, are moving in on Raqqa, General Dunford said, as reported by CNN, the U.S.-Russia cooperation is focused on Deir ez-Zor, where ISIS forces are expected to go from Raqqa. These plans are in addition to the existing hotline which is intended to prevent unintended encounters between U.S. and Russian aircraft.

General Dunford noted that the U.S. military is prohibited by law from coordinating directly with the Russian military, but the two are setting up the "de-confliction zones" which allow coordinated, but not joint, operations in targeted areas.

Under the new channel of communications, the official for planning future operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., routinely talks to his Russian counterpart, Dunford reported. He said he spoke personally with Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov. "We speak routinely when we need to, to work through the deconfliction."

Dunford and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who was also at the press conference, said that the new strategy included a delegation of authority from the President to General Dunford, and from Dunford to his field commanders, allowing them to take actions against ISIS on their own. Mattis said: "no longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington, D.C. has to authorize tactical movements on the ground." CNN described this as a "rebuke of President Barack Obama’s administration, which was criticized by some military officials for micromanaging tactical decisions in the field."

General Mattis also announced a shift to a policy of surrounding ISIS held cities rather than driving ISIS out of them. Mattis said:

"The foreign fighters are the strategic threat should they return home to Tunis, to Kuala Lumpur, to Paris, to Detroit, wherever. We carry out the annihilation campaign so we don’t simply transplant this problem from one location."