Local News

U.S. Military Working for Peace in Former Enemy Land

Posted September 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The Cold War ended with hammerblows as Germans punched holes through the Berlin wall, and with votes as the Soviet Union broke into pieces.

Now the United States military is working for peace in a land where its presence would once have meant war. Troops from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division are in Kazakstan helping former Red Army troops.

WRAL-TV5'sTerri Grucawent along on the trip. She talked to paratroopers and found that they understand why they are there. The 82nd Airborne's 1LT Mike Olson says it is a peacekeeping mission.

Soldiers from Kasakstan and Uzbekistan are working closely with those from the US, stopping traffic along Kasakstan streets, searching cars and people as part of their checkpoint training. It's the sort of training US soldiers do all the time, but dealing with foreign soldiers creates extra obstacles for the Americans. Sgt. Tony Williams says the language barrier can create problems and slowdowns.

But in spite of language barriers and widely differing tactics, most of the soldiers believe in their military service, regardless of the country. They say that's why these peacekeeping missions are so successful. Capt. Dzhumakeer Almaz is in the Kazakstan Army. He says there are differences, but they are easily overcome.

With all the planning and training the soldiers expected to share, many have expressed surprise at the ease with which they can work together for peace -- even with former enemies.

The 82nd is moving south to Uzbekistan where similar training exercises will continue through Saturday. The troops will return to Fort Bragg Monday evening.

Photographer:Rick Allen