TAVANTOLGOI, Mongolia – The Mongolian Armed Forces and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command jointly conducted the annual Khaan Quest peacekeeping exercise to promote peace and security in Northeast Asia.
The exercise, which had not been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, included Soldiers from the Alaska Army National Guard. Khaan Quest 2022 concluded June 20.
“It is not only a great opportunity to exchange lessons and techniques, it is an expression of the commitment of the participating nations to the charter of the United Nations and all that it stands for and against,” said Maj. Gen. Chris Smith, deputy commanding general of strategy and plans for U.S. Army Pacific. “To that end, the exercise draws from a diversity of participants matched by few other military exercises around the world.”
For two weeks, the Mongolian Armed Forces hosted 15 nations in the 18th iteration of the exercise. By participating in Khaan Quest, countries showcased their resolve in peacekeeping missions around the world.
Soldiers from Mongolia and across the U.S. Army, Pacific participated in the exercise, primarily from the Alaska Army National Guard, along with Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-5 Infantry Battalion, 1-11 Airborne Division and 387th Military Police Battalion. Also joining the exercise were Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Nepal, Malaysia, Japan, India, Germany, France, Canada, Bangladesh and Australia.
Khaan Quest 2022 included a combined brigade-level command post exercise and a battalion-level field training exercise. It focused on peacekeeping in a realistic scenario and coordination with humanitarian organizations and host nation partners.
Command post operations conducted during the exercise enhanced battalion staff capabilities and interoperability to prepare for U.N. peacekeeping operations.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rafael Pacheco of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 297th Regional Support Group, Alaska National Guard, led command post operations.
“In my experience as an Alaska Guardsman, I experienced firsthand Mongolian Armed Forces soldiers perform in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012,” Pacheco said. “Mongolian soldiers performed duties as the force protection contingency in charge of security in Camp Eggers and as flight line security at the Kabul International Airport. MAF Soldiers were amongst the best that ISAF partners could ask for.”
The field training exercises included improvised explosive device awareness, riot training and combat first aid.
“My Soldiers and I are grateful for the unifying experiences and friendship shared between us, MAF, and other participating nations,” said 1st Lt. Porter of 1-5 Infantry Battalion. “Our cooperation and shared interests continue to strengthen and develop our relations on both personal and professional levels.”
Maj. Eliza Zamor and Maj. Thomas Scott, 351st CACOM preventive medicine veterinarians, collaborated with the MAF public health team to address food and water safety for Khaan Quest participants.
Zamor praised the Mongolian-American teamwork.
“Planning and executing food and water risk assessments and mitigations with our Mongolian counterparts was an excellent way to increase our joint knowledge level and ensure preparation for future support to troop operations,” Zamor said.
During the closing ceremony at the Five Hills Training Area, Smith emphasized that exercise participants may be from varied backgrounds but share much in common.
“When we are called upon one day to go together to keep the peace in some unfortunate place, we will be ready, and we will know each other,” he said.
Smith also stressed the United States’ commitment to maintaining its partnership by continuing to co-host this important event alongside its Mongolian partners.
“As an Australian officer standing before you speaking on behalf of the United States - as a deputy commander of a force of over 60,000 American troops - I think there are few better illustrations of America’s commitment to deep and diverse partnerships,” he said.
“General Ganzorig, thank you for your leadership to get Khaan Quest back on track so quickly after the worst of the pandemic. You have a fine and professional force that we are proud to partner with.”