Commanding General of the U.S. Army Europe, Lieutenant General Mark P. Hertling released a report in Foreign Policy magazine.
“The Caucasus, that historical causeway of conflict between Europe and the Middle East, remains a complicated tangle of security concerns. Ethnic tensions still affect long standing territorial disputes, internally displaced indigenous people align with or oppose powerful diasporas, and an increasing nouveau riche, an oil-fueled minority upper class, is growing in an area once known only for desperate poverty.
While the Minsk Group spearheads the OSCE’s efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in and around Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan both remain frustrated with the lack of political resolve… The recent Georgian experience with Russia has left significant cross-border scars that will likely not heal anytime soon, especially as Georgia desperately seeks NATO membership and European acceptance,” the report reads.
According to the author, the spider-web relations between Iran and Israel with many of those in this region confuses even the experts; and the border between Turkey and many of her neighbors, especially Armenia, are subject to political resolution of multi-generational disputes between those two countries.
“All of these factors exist in a crucible surrounded on three sides by Turkey, Iran, and Russia. The potential for conflict is considered so plausible and the issues related to the interaction so confusing that a few years ago the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command developed scenarios linked to the Caucasus to help prepare Majors for military contingencies. The U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth uses the “GAAT” (Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkey) exercise as a thread of continuity throughout the course. Understandably there is no right or wrong answers to any of the questions posed to young field grade officers in the course, but the underlying conflict scenarios meet the requirement to analyze and exercise an extremely complex Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational resolution.
European Command’s strategy of Theater Security Cooperation – and USAREUR’s contribution as part of that strategy in training and exercising with the militaries and engaging with military and political leaders – is bearing significant results. The four nations that make up “the GAAT” are integrating forces in NATO out of theater and peacekeeping operations in places like Afghanistan and Kosovo, and the potential for peaceful management of the region’s substantial security challenges is improving,” the report reads.