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Robert Farley
By Robert Farley December 11, 2009

New military-to-military exchanges with Russia and China

On July 6, 2009, the United States and Russia agreed to resume military bilateral cooperation, which had been on hold since tensions between the countries grew over the military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008.

According to the American Forces Press Service, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart signed a strategic framework agreement in which they pledged to participate in a host of military-to-military exchanges. Among them, the two sides agreed to: conduct nearly 20 exchanges and operational events before the end of 2009; hold an orientation for Russian military cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; plan for a joint exercise on responding to hijacked aircraft; an exchange of faculty from the Russian Combined Arms Academy to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and stage a naval war game by the Kuznetsov Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College.

"This provides a framework for improved cooperation and interoperability between our armed forces, so that we can better address the threats that we face, from terrorism to piracy," President Barack Obama said during a news conference in Moscow.

"Today, we've made meaningful progress in demonstrating through deeds and words what a more constructive U.S.-Russian relationship can look like in the 21st century," Obama said.

Obama took another big step forward on this promise during his visit to China in November, securing a commitment to resume military exchanges between the two countries after China suspended them the year before due to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

After Obama met with President Hu Jintao of the People"s Republic of China, the two countries released a joint statement on Nov. 19, 2009.

According to the statement, "The two sides will actively implement various exchange and cooperation programs agreed between the two militaries, including by increasing the level and frequency of exchanges. The goal of these efforts is to improve their capabilities for practical cooperation and foster greater understanding of each other"s intentions and of the international security environment."

We think these two initiatives demonstrate Obama's commitment to expanding military exchange programs with other countries. And we rate this one Promise Kept.

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