FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia - The Mongolian Armed Forces and U.S. Pacific Command are hosting the multinational peacekeeping exercise Khaan Quest 2016, which commenced May 22 with an opening ceremony at the Five Hills Training Area near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
This year’s Khaan Quest, held annually in Mongolia, is serving as the capstone exercise for the United Nations Global Peace Operations Initiative program, which provides pre-deployment training to GPOI partner countries preparing to support UN Peacekeeping Missions and is scheduled to take place May 22-June 4.
The ceremony was attended by the president of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, and the U.S. PACOM commander, Admiral Harry Harris Jr.
“(Participants) have come from near and far to our beautiful country bound by a single cause of world peace,” said Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
“Today, Khaan Quest is universally recognized as one of the most prestigious regional events with ever-increasing reputation, significance and participation.”
The needs of people worldwide serve as a constant reminder to us of the necessity of peaceful resolution of disputes and global service, which is the driving force behind these peacekeeping operations, according to Elbegdorj.
After Elbegdorj’s opening remarks, Harris addressed the audience, detailing the importance of multinational relationships and training.
“This year’s training will take us to the next level,” said Harris. “The Five Hills Training Facility will be home to militaries from around the world – about 2,000 soldiers from more than 40 countries. This facility will provide them with a specialized setting to learn and train together and will work to enhance interoperability and develop common tactics. All of this will ultimately enhance our collective effectiveness to support global peacekeeping operations.”
After the opening remarks, platoons from participating countries marched past the reviewing stand and flags flown to signify patriotism and the developing relationship between participating countries.
“In 2003, Khaan Quest began as a joint training endeavor between Mongolia and the U.S.,” said Harris. “Now, it’s a premier peacekeeping exercise involving dozens of nations from around the world. This is a testament to the power of partnership.”
The exercise will consist of four main events: Command Post Exercise (CPX), Field Training Event (FTE), Engineering Civic Action Program (ENCAP) projects, Health Services Support Engagement (HSSE) as well as training on critical enabler capabilities such as unmanned aerial systems, explosive ordnance disposal and counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED). USPACOM is the Organization Coordinating Event (OCE) for the exercise and provides command and control for all KQ 16 activities.
The field training exercise aims to hone service members’ skills in peacekeeping operational procedures through training in weapons familiarization, small boat operations, survival training and a multinational platoon competition.
The command post exercise aims to support Mongolian modernization goals by establishing and globally deploying battalion assets during peacekeeping operations by utilizing scenario-based exercises.
“The need for teamwork is proven again and again, the most recent examples being the tragic earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador,” said Harris. “It reminds us that all nations, no matter how rich or powerful, can use the help of our global community from time to time. And the best time to develop these partnerships is before world events demand them. Harnessing the wealth of capabilities represented by the many militaries here today is a priority. It’s a necessity to successfully address the range of transnational threats present in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
The ceremony closed with a final march past the reviewing stands followed by group photos with the guests of honor in the center of the parade deck.
“The U.S. is committed to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and we work diligently with Mongolia and other like-minded partners to build PKO capacity throughout the region,” said Harris. “Mongolia is a model PKO partner, not just with the U.S., but also with NATO and has supported many multinational operations around the world.”