‘Mutual Respect’ Over Syria

While Russia’s operations in Syria have largely avoided their stated goal of attacking ISIS and the country has served largely as a “distraction,” both it and the US have been able to stay professional and keep a “mutual respect” to avoid any incidents in the sky, the top airman in the Middle East said. Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, the commander of Air Forces Central Command, who oversees the air component of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said the US and Russia talk daily and talk “of substance” every other day to ensure that pilots in the air can interact professionally and stay safe, Brown said at AWS16. Russia, when it first deployed to Syria in September, would fly close to US aircraft to “check them out,” but that died down until a Turkish F-16 shot down a Su-24 in November. Russia then again flew close and was wary of US and coalition aircraft, but Brown said he believes Russia is sure of the coalition’s professionalism in the sky. The coalition does not worry about Russian or Syrian aircraft during missions, and “we are going to do what we need to do,” Brown said.