FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia — More than 80 Alaska Army National Guardsmen from 38th Troop Command and 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade joined approximately 1,000 service members from across the Pacific region Aug. 3-14 to participate in exercise Khaan Quest 2013.
The multinational peacekeeping exercise is hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces and co-sponsored by U.S. Army, Pacific and U.S. Marine Corp Forces, Pacific and designed to improve peace keeping operations capabilities and to increase interoperability among the participating nations.
MARFORPAC served as the U.S. executive agent for this year's exercise.
“Militaries from around the world have been gathering in this beautiful country for Khaan Quest over the last 11 years to share tactics and techniques and train together,” said Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Pacific. “Most importantly- to build personal relationships and friendships that are not only personally gratifying but also make us more effective militaries.”
This year Khaan Quest consisted of four main events, a command post exercise, field training exercise, cooperative health engagement events, and engineering civic action program projects, with Alaska Guardsmen participation in the first three events.
“Through exercises such as this, we all improve; through an understanding and greater interoperability that enables us to better contribute a more secure, stable and prosperous world,” said Robling. “There are no more fundamental ideals that span across the human race than security, stability and prosperity.”
Partnered in 2003, Alaska and Mongolia have formed a relationship sharing information through multiple exchanges and exercises that benefits the U.S. and Mongolian military relationship.
“Khaan Quest is valuable to USARPAC as part of their theater cooperation strategy and the Alaska National Guard, through their state partnership program, builds and supports both relationships,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Schell, commander of 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, Alaska Army National Guard. “We were able to work side-by-side with our Mongolian counterparts and other participating nations using the military decision-making processes for peacekeeping missions during the exercise.”
Schell said he set goals for his Soldiers before departing, not just focusing on building their individual skills but to understand how to function as part of a multi-national team and finally, to have fun.
“I think it’s important for my guardsmen to enjoy the opportunities they have when they are in uniform,” said Schell. “This is one of the top 10 opportunities I’ve had in my 19 years in uniform- to see the Mongolian traditions and their rich culture.”
In addition to Mongolia and the United States, military personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, India, Nepal, South Korea, Tajikistan, United Kingdom and Vietnam also participated in the exercise.
“I encourage everyone who leaves this beautiful country to build on the experiences and relationships we have forged together here,” said Robling. “The capabilities- and the friendships- that you have built will serve us all the next time we meet again in some troubled region or nation that is asking for assistance in setting their feet on the path to security, stability, and prosperity.”