FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia (June 24, 2014) -- Hundreds of service members and distinguished guests from U.S. Army Pacific and surrounding countries gathered for the Khaan Quest 2014 opening ceremony, held at the Mongolian Armed Forces Peace Support Operations Training Center at Five Hills Training Area here, Friday.

Maj. Gen. B. Bayarmagnai, deputy chief of General Staff, Mongolian Armed Forces; B. Bat-Erdene, member of parliament and Minister of Defense of Mongolia; and Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, addressed the audience and welcomed those in attendance.

"I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to all the peacekeepers who are unifying their sentiment for peace," said Bayarmagnai. "The Khaan Quest multinational exercise has significant importance that enables opportunity for international peacekeepers to share their knowledge and experience in peacekeeping operations, execution techniques, learned lessons, and real-life practices among the Soldiers."

Khaan Quest is a peacekeeping operations focused, combined training event between U.S. Army Pacific and Marine Corps Forces Pacific, hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces.

"The deed of peacekeepers has always been oriented to the human well-being and to create and preserve peaceful living conditions," added Bayarmagnai. "It is a privilege and point of pride to serve during this act of good will."

The twelfth iteration of Khaan Quest consists of four main events: Command Post Exercise, Field Training Exercise, Engineering Civil Action Program projects and a Cooperative Health Exchange.

"Training together and sharing our cultures, capabilities, and tactics creates a more robust network of peacekeeping forces capable of responding to the most challenging situations," said Katkus. "In addition to improving the capabilities of the military forces present, Khaan Quest also strengthens personal relationships in both military and civilian sectors."

The exercise provides an ideal platform for participating nations to demonstrate military-to-military interoperability, enhance relationships and increase multinational cooperation.

"Every nation's commitment and participation in this training improves the overall value of this exercise and ensures that we provide our Mongolian partners the best training event possible," added Katkus.

The relationship between the U.S. and Mongolian militaries continues to be one of mutual respect and holds the promise of continued improvement for years to come.

"I would like to thank our Mongolian hosts and the other nations present and express my appreciation to all of you who worked so hard to set up Khaan Quest 2014 to be the most successful exercise to date," exclaimed Katkus.

Khaan Quest 2014 is slated to host more than 1,000 services members, including approximately 300 U.S. personnel and participants and observers from 23 other countries including Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.