FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia -- With routers and plenty of networking cable in hand, three Soldiers from the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 516th Signal Brigade, 311th Signal Command (Theater) arrived here to support the 10th iteration of Khaan Quest 2013, a multinational collaboration of more than 1,000 military officers from nine nations around the world.
The 307th Soldiers arrived early to help set up vital communications for this Peace Support Operations Exercise hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces. The U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific co-sponsored this year's exercise, Aug. 5-15.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Gregory MacDonald, 307th ESB Automations Technician, along with Sgt. Spencer Tilove and Sgt. Ramon Rodriguez Garcia, both of Bravo Company, 307th ESB, and USARPAC's Master Sgt. Carolyn Hogan, spent about two weeks in Mongolia, providing crucial communications support to the Command Post Exercise and conducting bilateral training for Mongolian Armed Forces.
Joined by five Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment S-6 team, Alaska Army National Guard, the 307th ESB contingent significantly strengthened the Mongolian-led exercise by fielding more than 200 trouble tickets.
Together the communications team was responsible for the installation, operation, and maintenance of a command post exercise network, supporting more than 110 subscribers with 78 central processing units, 48 field phones and 13 voice-over-internet-protocol phones. They were also responsible for laying more than 3,500 feet of category 5 cable.
"We supported command teams at the battalion and brigade level by providing Active Directory, Share Point, Adobe Connect, CISCO Call Manager, Microsoft Exchange services and Help Desk support," said Rodriguez Garcia.
The exercise provides opportunities to build military-to-military relationships through training, team-building and collaborative problem solving. This year, the scenario involved troops facing civil unrest followed by an earthquake in a fictional country. The MAF took the reins, controlling the exercise, while U.S. Forces provided support by coaching and mentoring.
To test their ability to solve complex security tasks while saving lives and preventing disruptions to military operations, participants engaged in intense team-building, staff training, and computer and communications systems instruction, while exchanging experiences on troop evaluations.
The U.S. Army Pacific and 307th ESB Soldiers worked directly with military service members from Mongolia, the United States, Australia, China, Germany, South Korea, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.
The goal of KQ is to save lives and prevent disruption to military operations. The numerous countries involved in the exercise present an opportunity to meet individuals from different places around the word, and according to MacDonald, this potential for a broadened, global perspective is not wasted on the Soldiers.
"Both the U.S. and Mongolian soldiers benefited from the intense staff training and computer and communication systems instruction," MacDonald said. "There were so many nations represented this year at KQ13 -- some as participants, others as observers. I've never been any place else where I had the opportunity to interact with officers from countries that are not our typical allies like China and Vietnam. Khaan Quest provides a unique opportunity unlike any other exercise that I've been on."
Aside from providing invaluable PKO tactics, the multinational exercise provides an opportunity for Mongolia to showcase its strategic ties to the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Speaking for his fellow Signaleers, MacDonald said, "We're looking forward to participating in this exercise again next year."