Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Wall Street Journal that the militaries of the United States and Russia should “develop a relationship where we are candid and professional,” to help de-escalate any possible crises in the future.
“It’s important to have an effective means of military-to-military communications in order to clearly understand each other’s positions on very difficult issues and to develop a relationship where we are candid and professional, which in times of crisis can become a very important means in order to de-escalate any kind of crisis situation,” Milley said on his military jet in an interview last Thursday.
He went on to note that right now, military communications between the countries are mostly carried out by senior military leaders like Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as well as the chairman and supreme allied commander for Europe, but not by lower-ranking officials such as naval leaders at sea who could try to contact Russian officials in order to avoid conflict.
“We need to put in place policies and procedures to make sure that we increase certainty, to reduce uncertainty, increase trust to reduce distrust, increase stability to reduce instability in order to avoid miscalculation and reduce the possibility of great power war,” Milley added. “That’s a fundamental thing that we should try to do, and I am going to try to do it.”
Milley made the comment as he traveled across Europe on a visit that also saw him meet with his Russian opposite, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, for six hours in only their second face-to-face meeting, though the general noted that the two have talked multiple times by phone.
Russian military officials did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment about Milley’s remarks.