By Sgt. Balinda O'NealJuly 2, 2014
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia (July 2, 2014) -- Mongolian, Republic of India, and U.S. forces participated in the Engineering Civic Action Program portion of Exercise Khaan Quest 2014, which was conducted June 18-29.
Khaan Quest is a regularly scheduled, multinational exercise co-sponsored by U.S. Army, Pacific, and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and hosted annually by Mongolian Armed Forces. Khaan Quest 2014 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote regional peace and security. This year marks the 12th anniversary of this training event.
"The Mongolian armed forces have been organizing Exercise Khaan Quest with the U.S. armed forces, since 2003," said Brig. Gen. D. Davaa, chief of military supply and service department of the Mongolian armed force general staff. The medical and engineering activities have been organized annually since 2004, in order to strengthen civil-military relations and share the experience among the military personnel who are participating in the exercise."
Since 2004, school dormitories, kindergartens, and district hospitals have been renovated and public showers have been set up in the districts of Khaan-Uul, Songinokhairkhan, Nalaikh and Bayangol in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar -- all under Engineering Civic Action Program, or ENCAP, projects.
"I believe the (Community Health Engagement) and ENCAP in the frame of exercise Khaan Quest have made significant contributions to the reform of Mongolian armed forces by cooperating and exchanging experiences side-by-side with other nations and increasing their professional skills," added Davaa.
During this year's exercise, military engineers built a water distribution point in the 4th Khoroo, replaced the gym lighting system in the 42nd Elementary School in the Songinokhairkhan district, and renovated the 114th Kindergarten in the Bayangol district.
Construction specialists from the Mongolian armed forces 017 Engineer Battalion, the Republic of India armed forces, the Marine Corps' 9th Engineer Support Battalion, and U.S. Army Reserve's 465th Engineering Company (vertical), worked side-by-side using an array of skills including carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical work to improve the quality of life of civilian residents in the exercise areas.
"Not only in the future are we going to continue doing joint operations with a multinational effort, but also with different military branches of the U.S. (armed forces)," said 1st Lt. Shane Bowermaster, commander of the Birmingham, Alabama, based 465th. "We have similar missions, but are all specialized in different skill sets. The U.S. forces have been able to pull together and get large scale projects completed through a cooperative effort."
The exercise provides an ideal platform for participating nations to demonstrate military-to-military interoperability, enhance relationships and increase multinational cooperation.
"This experience has actually been extremely eye-opening," explained Bowermaster. "I thought we were going to arrive and teach the Mongolian armed forces how to do everything, but that is absolutely not the case."
Bowermaster said that the Mongolian armed forces have taught his troops to work on iron pipe and to bend pipe rather than use fittings. They have also had the opportunity to thread these pipes with horse hair, something they have never done before.
"Projects like this should be done a lot more often," explained Bowermaster. "We get enough of the home station training. These projects have real-world practical application, not only for exercise participants, but also for building up our global community."
Multinational response to humanitarian crises in the region has been more rapid and efficient due to the strong ties developed because of exercises like Khaan Quest