VICENZA, Italy (Feb. 12, 2014) -- A delegation of Russian soldiers visited paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), as part of a Vienna Document agreement evaluation here, Jan. 28.

Russia and the United States are both members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, under which both countries signed the Vienna Document, in 2011. As part of the agreement, members agree to open their facilities upon request from other members. This year Russia chose the U.S., and specifically the 173rd. In total, 22 countries signed the agreement.

Common to the evaluations are inspections of facilities, weapons, equipment and living areas -- all designed to help the evaluators get a sense of transparency and better operational understanding of their American counterparts.

"Our future relationship is still hard to define from where I sit," said Brigade Executive Officer Maj. James Downing. "But I can tell you that the closer our ties, the better our mutual understanding will be going forward, and that is generally a good thing for peace and prosperity."

The one-day visit started with a brief by senior leaders in the brigade on the brigade's history, mission and organization at the brigade headquarters at Caserma Del Din.

The Russian delegation then toured the brigade's new facilities at Del Din, visiting motor pools, company operations facilities and barracks. The evaluators also viewed ongoing training courses such as U.S. Army Pathfinder Course and Army Combatives.

Observing the training, Russian Col. Sergey Afanas'yev commented that soldiers from different nations have many things in common. He said the information gathered during the evaluation will be best used to help the two armies save lives and bring soldiers home safely.

The evaluators then moved to Caserma Ederle to see the rest of the brigade's facilities in Vicenza. The visit ended with an out brief during which the Russian team thanked the brigade for its hospitality and transparency.