Soviet military officials have told their U.S. counterparts that top-level talks between the nations' militaries might resolve technical problems that are roadblocks to agreement on conventional force reductions, according to a published report.
The Washington Post reported Monday that the Soviet Union's top defense officials, during a recent six-day tour of the United States, said the military contacts might lead to a formula for reduction that has eluded civilian arms negotiators because it would be based on a joint military assessment of what constitutes equal strength.The paper quoted sources as saying that Soviet Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev told Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that equal strength need not mean one-to-one equality in the numbers of arms and equipment because of technological and structural differences between the two militaries.
Crowe and Akhromeyev spent hours explaining to each other their basic military doctrines and the fears they have about each other, the Post said. They agreed, the paper quoted Crowe as saying last week, that there are two problems to be overcome, "Mistrust and the difference in the structures of our two militaries."
The discussions between Crowe and Akhromeyev have enabled the pair to form a personal relationship, similar to one that has developed between Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov, according to the Post.
Next week, Carlucci will travel to the Soviet Union for his third round of private meetings with Yazov. The two already have spent nearly 14 hours together discussing similar questions of doctrine and forces, first in Bern last March and then during the May summit in Moscow.
At Akhromeyev's invitation, Crowe is planning a trip to the Soviet Union sometime next year.