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· Left: Russian and US soldiers pose for a picture on the Angry Penguin, an MBT used for a live-fire exercise at the Grafenwöhr training area; 2005. · Bottom Right: A US Army soldier showing his Russian counterpart how to operate an Mk19 grenade launcher. · Top Right: US and Russian soldiers marching side-by-side.
Back in 2005, US and Russian soldiers took part in a historic training program at a US facility, where soldiers from both armies trained together for the first time in a joint live-fire operation in Germany. Roughly 300 troops from the Russian Combined Arms Academy and the 4th Russian Armored Division — backed by American "helpers and translators" — trained with American machine guns, drove Bradley fighting vehicles and Abram tanks, and even performed short battle maneuvers in the capstone of Exercise Torgau 2005. The two-week program was originally meant to build relations between the two armies. “They had a blast out there,” 1st Lt. Brett Brenkus (tank platoon leader for the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment) said. The exercise was the second portion of a years-long program, which was "started to improve Russian and US forces’ knowledge of the other’s weapons and tactics," with the goal of eventually having them perform large-scale joint combat operations together in the Middle East (which unfortunately never happened). US troops from the 1st Armored Division also spent a week in Moscow and a military training center near the capital trying out newly developed Russian-weapons and upgraded T-72 tanks before returning to Germany (to let the Russians handle US equipment). Soldiers from both nations said, despite language barriers that often impeded the transfer of specific knowledge of weapons and tactics, many of the troops had "quickly formed bonds" over the course of the exercise. “We actually have a lot in common,” Lt. Akhmed Kazharov, battalion commander at the Russian Combined Arms Academy, said. “I think ... a lot of the soldiers will be friends for a long time,” Spc. Daniel Manor, translator from the 501st Military Intelligence Battalion.
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