(WASHINGTON) — The United States is considering a Russian request to help with the security at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi by providing equipment that can counter remote-controlled roadside bombs, a technology first developed by the U.S. military for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is the first time that Russia has publicly expressed interest in a standing U.S. offer to help with security at the Games that get underway on Feb. 7.
The request was made Tuesday during a long-scheduled meeting in Brussels between Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov.
A spokesman for Dempsey confirmed to ABC News that the Russians briefly broached the subject of the United States providing what is known as counter-IED (improvised explosive device) technology. IED is the military’s term for the deadly roadside bombs used by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan against U.S. troops.
The U.S. military has spent billions over the past decade in developing technologies to detect and counter the simple but deadly bombs, including developing radio jammers capable of blocking radio or cellphone signals used to trigger a roadside bomb by remote control.
The official said the Russian request is for a variety of IED detection and countering hardware, including radio jammers.
The spokesman said the United States was looking to see if the American technologies were compatible with Russian gear. The request could open up the possibility that U.S. troops might be called on to operate the gear for the Russians, although the official cautioned that the first step was to see if the request was even feasible.
Armed Forces Press Service quoted Dempsey as saying after the meeting that the U.S. was willing to help Russia with security for the Olympics if asked. “I reiterated the fact that we would favorably consider requests from them,” Dempsey said.
He also said that providing security against international terrorists would be a problem anywhere, but he acknowledged that the nearby restive states of Chechnya and Dagestan brought their own unique threats.
Gerasimov told Dempsey that Russia had the right hand-picked security force in place, as well as the intelligence, to deal with threats at the Sochi games, including air defense, maritime defense, chemical and biological defense, backup medical support for civilian authorities, management of the electronic spectrum and electronic warfare.
On Monday, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that the U.S. European Command had developed contingency plans to assist with an evacuation of American citizens from Sochi if needed.
Two U.S. Navy ships, a destroyer and a small amphibious ship will be in the Black Sea at the time of the Olympics. Although they will not be providing security for the Games, they will be available to help with an evacuation effort.
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