At the London 2012 Olympics, various media outlets probed the notion of the Olympic athletes' village being a giant bed-hopping venue -- a phenomenon that not only disgusted my mother every time she heard it mentioned (which was often) but also puzzled me as a former international-level swimmer who spent every night before a race hunkered down doing visualization exercises. What does make sense, though, is the kind of pre-Olympic bed-hopping that we're currently seeing among nations in the run-up to the Sochi Games.
In 2012, Russian paratroopers visited Fort Carson, Colo., to take part in two weeks of training alongside members of the U.S. Special Forces. Steven Osterholzer, a spokesman for the 10th Special Forces Group, told the Associated Press that mutual understanding between the two nations' military forces is essential in joint military and humanitarian operations such as antiterrorism measures and disaster relief.
Today, in light of the pre-Olympic bombings in Sochi, such collaboration makes all the pragmatic sense in the world.
Last March, Russia decided to reinstate its special operations combat forces command -- known as Spetsnaz GRU and under military intelligence control during the Soviet years -- which had been disbanded after the 2008 Georgian conflict. At the time, observers in Russia and abroad wondered why. Some figured it might be due to Europe's missile defense system, or to counter America's Special Forces activities abroad.
Keep in mind that, at the time, Russia and the U.S. were continuing to engage in military cooperation under a bilateral agreement. It would be naive to think that the two countries wouldn't welcome an opportunity to sniff out each other's capabilities under the guise of meet-and-greet sessions on military bases. But these are trained professionals who have spent their careers picking off Islamic terrorists -- not each other. It's hardly a stretch to imagine them working alongside each other to target the same terrorists both sides have been trained to fight, this time in the context of Olympic security.
What if the joint exercises between Russian and American troops were all about the possibility that U.S troops might be put in a position to have to potentially kill terrorists in the streets of a Russian city -- to keep Americans and other Westerners safe in Sochi?