KAMPONG SPEU PROVINCE, Cambodia, May 19, 2011 -- Angkor Sentinel 2011 officially began with an opening ceremony May 18, 2011, at the Training School for Multi-National Peace Keeping Forces, Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia.

The bulk of the ceremony centered on speeches from Brig. Gen. Michael Liechty, land component commander, Utah Army National Guard, and Lt. Gen. Sem Sovanny, director-general of the National Center for Peacekeeping Force, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

"The exercise is focused on exchanging knowledge, respecting, loving, and unifying among other forces regardless of who we are, our languages, religions, cultures and traditions," Sovanny said during his remarks.

In addition to Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, or RCAF, and U.S. Soldiers, personnel from other countries will be participating in Angkor Sentinel 11 as well, which will bring the tally of participants to more than 500 Soldiers.

Brig. Gen. Un Siyoeun, director of the Training School for Multi-National Peacekeeping Forces, provided an overview of events and mentioned that there are 325 Cambodian, 167 U.S., two Indonesian, and six Mongolian Soldiers participating in various aspects of the exercise.

Angkor Sentinel 11 will consist of four parts:

A Command Post Exercise that focuses on U.N. mandates surrounding peacekeeping operations
An Engineer Civic Action Project, which started in March and has focused on building a new three-room school and renovating a dilapidated clinic in Kampong Speu Province
A Medical Civic Action Project will focus on medical and dental care for locals with projections of 600 to 800 patients per day
First aid training to Cambodian forces working in non-medical specialties similar to the U.S. Army's Combat Lifesaver Course.

There is also a Pre-Deployment Force Protection Course that will cover various lanes of theory and application in a peacekeeping setting, Siyoeun said.

The speakers expressed how exercises like Angkor Sentinel 11 not only contribute to a regional peacekeeping training capability in Asia, but also provide opportunities for the Soldiers of participating countries to build friendships.

"I know of your long military relationship with the United States," Liechty said to the RCAF Soldiers in attendance at the opening ceremony. "I'm sure that the opportunity to work with the Utah National Guard has enhanced that relationship. This is an excellent opportunity for both militaries to build lasting and trusting relationships."

Liechty went on to recognize peacekeeping efforts that the RCAF have performed in Sudan and Lebanon, and gave mention to the effectiveness of the RCAF's training on their own home front. He then summed up what training exercises such as Angkor Sentinel 11 are all about.

"Having the opportunity to work side by side with the RCAF has without question made us all better Soldiers," Liechty said.

After all speeches were finished, the multinational group of troops were brought to attention and released to go and participate in a Friendship Luncheon hosted by Sovanny and the RCAF in which a variety of native delicacies were served and many cheers and toasts for positive outcomes for the future were expressed.