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NEWS | May 24, 2016

Khaan Quest / Global Peace Operations Initiative Opening Ceremony

By ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr. U.S. Pacific Command

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Khaan Quest Opening Remarks
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
May 22, 2016
As Prepared for Delivery
 
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Khaan Quest 2016! It's my honor to be here during the opening ceremony for this first-class training event designed to prepare our military forces for multinational peacekeeping operations – or PKO as we call it.

Before continuing, I'd like to acknowledge President Elbegdorj, Major General Davaa, Ambassadors, and fellow General officers. 

To Ambassador Galt, thank you for your support. Your leadership continues to pave the way for a strong U.S.-Mongolia partnership. 

Based upon a mutual respect for democratic principles, human rights, free markets, and security cooperation, the long-standing relationship between our two countries is flourishing. I admire Mongolia greatly – you’re a democracy in a tough neighborhood. 

Folks, I’m mindful of the two types of speakers one might encounter at an opening ceremony like this: those who never stop to think, and those who never think to stop. I’ll do my best not to be either.

First, I’d like to express my deep appreciation to Mongolia for hosting this world-class multinational exercise. Khaan Quest is the capstone exercise to the Global Peace Operations Initiative.

Second, I’d like to personally thank all of the nations who are participating this year. Your commitment to the region’s security matters, and I appreciate your efforts to enhance the rules-based security architecture that has served Asia so well for decades.

It’s important to recognize that security and stability in this region didn’t just happen on its own. Like-minded nations – who are committed to working together to maintain security and stability to advance peace and prosperity – made this possible.
 
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. 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. 

Indeed, Mongolia is a model for what can be achieved through multilateral partnerships that serve the greater good. 

Through its mentorship of emerging nations, it exports democratic values. Through its peacekeeping efforts, it exports security. In fact, Mongolia's armed forces are recognized experts in this arena, renowned for upholding human rights... so it’s no surprise that Mongolia has become a global leader in U.N. Peacekeeping Operations.

I also have to compliment Mongolia's armed forces as they professionalize their enlisted force. This important effort will have a significant and positive impact on regional stability and will provide greater capability during future peacekeeping operations and multinational crisis response.
 
I applaud the Mongolian Armed Forces for your leadership and for setting a great example for others to emulate.

With the momentum of the Global Peace Operations Initiative – or GPOI – the Mongolian-U.S. partnership has produced tangible results like the Five Hills Training Center... the global standard for peacekeeping operations that recently achieved full NATO interoperability. This is a major achievement and U.S. Pacific Command is proud of our small part in it.

And this year’s training will take us to the next level, fulfilling the missions of both a Khaan Quest and GPOI Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise. For the next three weeks, this 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 a specialized setting to learn and train together. 
 
During this exercise, multinational forces will work to enhance interoperability and develop common tactics. All of this will ultimately enhance our collective effectiveness to support global peacekeeping operations.

In 2003, Khaan Quest began as a joint training endeavor between Mongolia and the U.S. Now, it’s a premier peacekeeping exercise involving dozens of nations from around the world. This is a testament to the power of partnership. 

Partnerships play a critical role in meeting global challenges, from maintaining peace to mitigating the impacts of natural disasters. Multinational training like this provides an excellent opportunity to deepen mutual understanding and respect and encourage further collaboration. 

The need for teamwork is proven again and again, the most recent examples being the tragic earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador. 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. I daresay it’s a necessity in order to successfully address the range of transnational threats present in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
 
Bringing our talents, ideas and resources together magnifies our impact far beyond the immediate region. Multilateral partnerships are a force multiplier for good around the world.

To the troops preparing to deploy on your next peacekeeping operation: I’m impressed with your commitment to making the world a safer place. 

I encourage each participating nation to continue efforts to develop and use your non-commissioned officers as they take on even greater roles and responsibilities to enhance your militaries’ capability, as well as improve global interoperability.

So, for the next couple of weeks, train hard, train safely, and train with a willingness to learn from each other. Strive to become a more interoperable peacekeeping force. Forge relationships that you can call on during crises.
 
This is the place to think creatively and maybe make a few mistakes – learn from those mistakes and take your training to the next level. This is how you grow and get better for future peacekeeping missions.

Thank you all for your participation in Khaan Quest 2016. Your contributions support the rules-based security architecture that underpins stability, prosperity and peace in this region – and throughout the world. Thank you very much.
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