Russia Asks US for Help with IEDs at Olympics

A seaman employs a bamboo sickle to search for buried IEDs at the Combat Center’s Range 800.

Russian government officials have asked the U.S. for help in detecting and dismantling improvised explosive devices at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey received the request while discussing a variety of security issues with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov.

U.S. officials had made a general offer of U.S. military support to Russia to protect the Olympics from terrorist attacks. In fact, the U.S. Navy has two ships stationed in the Black Sea near the coastal town of Sochi with commanders running through "prudent planning and preparations" should support be requested, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the lead Pentagon spokesman.

There are fears that the Sochi Winter Games could be attacked by terrorists due to Russia's violent past with militants from nearby Chechnya and Dagestan. Specifically, defense analysts have said the Olympics could face threats from suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices like those U.S. troops have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. has spent billions of dollars to combat these homemade bombs developing techniques to detect a host of IEDs to include those that are buried or controlled by remote detonators. Dempsey reportedly told Gerasimov that the U.S. would share technical information on defeating IEDs before the games. Dempsey said this information could be used in time for the Olympics if Russia's equipment was compatible.

"I reiterated the fact that we would favorably consider requests from them," Dempsey said according to an American Forces Press Service report.

Following his meeting with Gerasimov, Dempsey said he's confident the Russians could adequately provide security at the Winter Games.

"[Gerasimov] believes they have in place the intelligence apparatus, as well as the response apparatus, to deal with the threats as they know them this year in Sochi," Dempsey told AFP.

Dempsey did not provide further details of what specific type of technical information the Americans would provide to the Russians, or if U.S. equipment would be part of the offer to help.

Concerns about security at the Olympics grew on Dec. 29 following a deadly explosion by a suspected suicide bomber in the Russian city of Volgograd. The bombing was followed by another suicide attack in Volgograd on a trolleybus.

Volgograd is a 13-hour drive from Sochi. Dozens were wounded and 34 people were killed following the attacks.

Along with the two Navy ships -- a destroyer and a small amphibious ship -- the U.S. military has prepared other military options in the event of a crisis in the area. There are C-17s at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, special operations units based out of Stuttgart, Germany, and crisis-response U.S. Marines out of Spain that would be available should a tragedy occur.

"Air and naval assets, to include two Navy ships in the Black Sea, will be available if requested for all manner of contingencies in support of -- and in consultation with -- the Russian government," Kirby said.

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