„The agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Mr. Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for American and Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups. Mr. Carter was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Mr. Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated. Although President Obama ultimately approved the effort after hours of debate, Pentagon officials remain unconvinced.
On Tuesday at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days – the initial part of the deal – the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day: an extraordinary collaboration between the United States and Russia that calls for the American military to share information with Moscow on Islamic State targets in Syria. ‚I’m not saying yes or no,‘ Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command, told reporters on a video conference call. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it.”
(Helene Cooper/David E. Sanger: „Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon“)
„But beneath the politics and diplomacy of the deal – which began with a cease-fire Monday, to be followed, if it succeeds, by coordinated U.S.-Russian counterterrorism airstrikes – the prospect of military-to-military cooperation does not sit well with the Defense Department. ‚There is a trust deficit with the Russians; it is not clear to us what their objectives are,‘ Gen. Joseph L. Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday. ‚They say one thing, and we don’t necessarily see them following up on this.‘
That mistrust resides most deeply in Carter, who officials familiar with the Russia negotiations said almost single-handedly delayed Friday’s final agreement with his repeated questions during the conference call. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, voiced little objection during the principals’ meeting, officials said. But Pentagon officials acknowledged widespread concern that Russia will not live up to its end of the deal, and fears that the U.S. military will be blamed for problems or the failure of an initiative it does not fully support. Many are still smarting from criticism and derision over an earlier program to build up an army of U.S.-trained Syrian fighters that repeatedly stumbled and ultimately was abandoned.
(Karen DeYoung/Missy Ryan : „Pentagon grudgingly accepts Syria deal amid deep mistrust of Russia“)