Closing ceremonies commenced today at the Five Hills Training Area in Tavantolgoi, Mongolia, marking the official end to Exercise Khaan Quest 2022.
The Mongolian Armed Forces and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has been jointly conducting the annual Khaan Quest peacekeeping exercise since 2003. It began to be organized as an international joint exercise in 2006 which is designed to promote regional peace and security in Northeast Asia.
In 2019, more than 30 countries participated. The exercise had not been conducted since then due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, Khaan Quest has risen from the ashes of the pandemic and is stronger than ever. Fifteen countries have participated in Khaan Quest 2022 with more participants expected to join in next year’s exercise.
Maj. Gen. Chris Smith, Deputy Commanding General of Strategy and Plans for U.S. Army Pacific, expressed the importance of connecting with participating nations and emphasizing the importance of peace keeping operations.
Smith said, “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. To that end, the exercise draws from a diversity of participants matched by few other military exercises around the world.
For the past two weeks, Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) hosted 15 nations in this 18th iteration of the exercise. By participating in Khaan Quest, nations are able to showcase 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 IN BN, 1-11 ABN and 387th MP Battalion, and nations around the world to include: Turkey, Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Nepal, Malaysia, Japan, India, Germany, France, Canada, Bangladesh, and Australia.
Khaan Quest 2022 includes a combined brigade-level command post exercise (CPX) and battalion-level field training exercise (FTX). It focuses on peace keeping operations (PKO) within a realistic scenario and coordination with humanitarian organizations and host nation partners.
CPX operations conducted during the exercise aim to enhance battalion staff capabilities and interoperability to conduct peace, stability, and humanitarian assistance operations, as well as share experiences and procedures amongst participants to prepare for United Nations peacekeeping operations.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rafael Pacheco of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 297th Regional Support Group, Alaska National Guard has been leading CPX operations.
Pacheco emphasized that Khaan Quest 2022 CPX operations have been the most successful to date. Praises were given to Mongolian forces for their high level of expertise and professionalism. Pacheco explained an exceptional memory of working side by side with Mongolian forces.
“In my experience as an Alaska Guardsman I experienced first-hand Mongolian Armed Forces Soldiers perform in Kabul, Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012. 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 FTX exercises provided training through simulated events, such as IED awareness, riot training and combat first aid.
1st Lt. Porter of 1-5 IN BN praised the U.S. Mongolian bilateral relationship and teamwork amongst the participating nations, “My Soldiers and I are grateful for the unifying experiences and friendship shared between us, MAF, and other participating nations. Our cooperation and shared interests continue to strengthen and develop our relations on both personal and professional levels”.
351st CACOM preventive medicine veterinarians, Maj. Eliza Zamor and Maj. Thomas Scott collaborated and worked in conjunction with the MAF public health team and preventive medicine NCOIC Staff Sgt. Pond to address food and water safety for Khaan Quest participants.
Co-sampling and evaluation at the MAF mobile lab and U.S. Army lab verified accuracy of sample results and enabled a joint learning experience for all team members. Assessments from the exercise will be available for future iterations of Khaan Quest participants.
Zamor praised 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.”
The main objective of Khaan Quest 2022 is to provide participants United Nations training and certification through realistic peace support operations that will enhance UN PKO interoperability and military relationships among the participating nations.
Maj. Gen. Smith ended the ceremony speaking of the relationships that have been made over the past two weeks. He emphasized that participants during the exercise may be from varied backgrounds but have come to appreciate that they share a lot 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”.
Smith also stressed the United States steadfast commitment in maintaining its partnership by continuing to co-host this important event alongside its Mongolian partners well into the future.
“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.
General Ganzorig, thank you for your leadership to get Khan 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”.