WASHINGTON– The United States and Russia’s shared struggles offer great opportunities, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today during an address at Russia’s Military Academy of the General Staff in Moscow.

“We must seize these opportunities and learn from each other,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. “Instead of merely settling for a relationship defined by differences, we have the opportunity to forge one based on mutual respect and the realization that our joint leadership must continue to be a cornerstone of security and stability for the world.”

Today, the two countries’ shared history and challenges bring them closer together, he said. But there are more significant challenges ahead.

The spreading extremist insurgency in and around Afghanistan requires a regional approach. Nuclear proliferation in North Korea, the prospect of nuclear arms in Iran, and a global terrorist threat requires international efforts to overcome, he added.

“Today we live in a time of extraordinary change,” Mullen said. “Our rapidly changing battlefields range from cyberspace to wherever terrorists might strike next.

“As globalization, energy needs and economics shape our shared future, we as military leaders, must likewise adapt,” he added

But even military leaders look to their warriors to make their visions reality. The two best warriors the United States and Russia have were not recently discovered on the battlefield, but written about decades ago.

“In his classic work “War and Peace,” Tolstoy wrote that the strongest of all warriors are these two, time and patience,” Mullen said. “What Tolstoy knew then as our current struggle against violent extremism teaches us now that only our most deliberate and persistent efforts will take hold and root.”

The two countries have emerged from more than 40 years of Cold War with a new opportunity for increased and unprecedented cooperation on the challenges they face, he said. The United States and Russia share more than common dangers, however.

Members of each country’s military share the traditions of selfless service to a greater good, a boundless love for their countries and the desire to create better lives and a brighter world for their families, he said.

“In this very room sit the future military leaders who will see this way ahead,” Mullen said. “Now is the time. Here is the place for the armed forces of Russia and the United States to commit themselves to a new and better relationship, a relationship forged in trust and founded on our common desire to secure our citizens from harm.

“It is a new world out there, a new era. We need to rise to meet it,” he said. “Let us pledge to each other that, though we may not always see this world in quite the same way, we will nevertheless see our way clear to dialogue and discussion and debate.”

It is from these things that understanding and cooperation come, he said.

“It encourages me to know that my counterpart, General of the Army [Nikolai] Makarov, shares my belief in the power of our present opportunity,” Mullen said.

Mullen, who left for Russia on June 24, will round out his weeklong trip with a stop in Poland for talks with his counterpart there. He’ll also stop in Stuttgart, Germany, where he and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will preside over the European Command’s change of command ceremony. Army Gen. John Craddock will turn over EUCOM’s reins to Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis at Husky Field on Patch Barracks on June 30.

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