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The North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Russian Federation completed the first joint 3-day exercise designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the two forces to work together during a real crisis. The exercise, VIGILANT EAGLE, was an international air terrorism scenario exercised over the Pacific Ocean consisting of forces from the U.S. and Russia responding to the simulated hijacking of a B-757 en route to the Far East. The NORAD Planning and Exercise Directorate sprearheaded the exercise. Elements of the Transportation Security Administration Operations Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the 611th Air and Space Operations Group, 176th Air Control Squadron and the Alaska NORAD Region made up the U.S. half of the exercise while the Communications and Radiotech Directorate, Navigation Service of the Russian Federation Air Force, Office of Special Translation and Interpretation Operations Directorate and the National Antiterrorism Office made up the Russian half.
Russian Air Force Col. Alexander Vasilyev, Russian Federation Air Forces deputy director of security and safety said that despite the friction the two countries have had in years past, it is important for them to work together to combat the dangers of air terrorism. “Terrorism is something that affects all our countries,” he said. “So it is very important that we work together to develop procedures and bring the relationship between our countries closer together to unite our countries in the fight against terrorism.”