Syria Cooperation Deal Signed, Pentagon Still Loathe to Work With Russia

Defense Secretary Would Need to Issue Waiver for Cooperation

by Jason Ditz, September 14, 2016

Even though the deal on military cooperation between the US and Russia in Syria is already in place as part of the deal that led to this week’s ceasefire, Pentagon officials are continuing to be very vocal about their reluctance to work with the Russians under any circumstances, and leaving open the question of anything coming of the agreement.

The US military brass has been comfortable with Russia being “the enemy” for generations, and many are suggesting that even the idea of sharing targeting information with them was dangerous, and could put US-backed rebels at risk by giving Russia indications of where they are.

Officials are insisting that the joint integration center in Geneva that will host the cooperation is going to be seriously limited compared to other US joint operations centers, and will provide Russia with very limited information about what the US is actually doing.

Even that much seems to be predicated on Secretary of Defense Ash Carter signing off on it. US law does not allow military cooperation with Russia generally, and would require a waiver from Carter for this particular circumstance.

And even though the deal is very much administration policy, that’s no guarantee that Carter is going to play ball, having spent the last few weeks of negotiation railing against the Russians as a threat to international stability by their very nature. If Carter won’t sign off, the cooperation just won’t happen.

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