FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia -- When Mongolian Armed Forces soldiers, roleplaying as starving citizens of a war-torn nation, tried to push their way into a simulated United Nations relief distribution compound operated by Qatar Armed Forces soldiers, it was imperative the Qataris maintain order, or they would risk having the situation descend into chaos.
Speaking measured English, Qatar Armed Forces Capt. Mohammed Al Baker assured the restive group of displaced citizens they would get relief supplies, but they had to be patient. Whether overcome by hunger or fear of marauding rebels, the citizens continued to press the line.
One soldier – a very large man the size of an NFL linebacker – single handedly pushed back against a queue of a dozen citizens.
“Back!” Sgt. Saqr Al Nuaimi ordered in explosive English. “Move back!”
The chaotic encounter was a single scene of a day-long saga at the simulated U.N. distribution site June 23, 2018, where the Qatar Armed Forces soldiers honed a number of skills to provide aid while maintaining security during exercise Quest 2018 at Five Hills Training Area.
The purpose of Khaan Quest is to gain U.N. training and certification for the participants through the conduct of realistic peace support operations, to include increasing and improving U.N. peacekeeping interoperability and military relationships among the participating nations.
Al Baker said he is keenly aware of the difference of training for war and preparing for U.N. peacekeeping operations.
“The main objective here is always to protect civilians and save the peace at all costs,” he said.
Alaska Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Flanity Briones, Khaan Quest instructor, said the distribution lane stressed the peacekeeping tenets of rules of engagement, code of personal conduct and protection of civilians.
Though Al Nuaimi pushed back on the line, he did so with the least amount of force possible given the situation. The platoon refrained from firing warning shots so as not to startle the group.
Al Baker reminded his soldiers the citizens weren't the enemy, they were hungry people who could act out due to desperation.
When the enemy, simulated rebels, showed up and opened fire, the Qatar Armed Forces swiftly moved into action. Soldiers near civilians pressed them to take cover while three riflemen in a bunker returned precision fire to suppress the threat.
Later, a simulated fire broke out in the distribution tent, and half of the platoon instantly transformed into an ad hoc fire brigade, evacuating precious supplies to the safety of an adjacent tent. The other half kept their heads about them and maintained perimeter and interior security.
When a role player simulating a blind man presented himself at the gate, a soldier was assigned to carefully guide him through the site to ensure he received his supplies.
Throughout the exercise, the Qatar Armed Forces soldiers demonstrated they could keep the peace and protect the force at the same time.
“The Qatari platoon did very well,” Briones said. “They had great security and provided great protection for the civilians.”