(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia - Approximately 35 officers representing nine countries began the United Nations Staff Officers Course, the first official event of Khaan Quest 2009, on Monday.

The Global Peace Operations Initiative, a U.S. Department of State program dealing with peace operations, is responsible for the organization of UNSOC, said Pete DeFelice, multinational exercise designer, U.S. Pacific Command. In this year's course, participating officers represent the United States, Mongolia, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany and Singapore.

The UNSOC is a 10-day educational program designed for international military officers from the rank of captain to colonel and civilian equivalents. The goal of the course is to train participants to better support their respective nation's peace operations around the globe.

According to the program's description, upon completion of the course, officers and other officials will have the necessary knowledge to improve the ability of their national armed forces to solve both domestic and international crises as well as to ensure the success of any future peacekeeping operations.

During the course, officers are scheduled to study the United Nations' organizational structure and examine case studies involving their modern peace support operations. Furthermore, officers will also participate in group exercises designed to educate them on military staff functions and operational level planning processes.

Before the course began, participating officers were given a brief from Col. B Bayarmagnai, deputy chief of staff, Mongolian Armed Forces, who expressed his interests and expectations for both Khaan Quest and UNSOC. Bayarmagnai told the officers that he believes the exercise will not only benefit those undergoing the training, but also the people whose lives will be positively affected by the peace support lessons taught in the classroom.

This UNSOC is currently slated for completion Aug. 12, while the official opening ceremony for Khaan Quest is scheduled for Aug. 15.