For the first time, U.S. Marines deployed to Mongolia for an exercise with Mongolian Armed Forces.

The Khaan Quest ’03 exercise emphasizes noncommissioned officer development and peacekeeping operations.

During the exercise’s first phase, an exchange of physical fitness programs took place, Khaan Quest officer in charge Maj. John C. Osborne Jr. said in a Marine Corps press release.

Marine instructors also gave classroom instruction on NCO development.

The Mongolian Armed Force “doesn’t really have a staff NCO structure,” Osborne said in the release. “They have NCOs and officers, but their NCOs aren’t necessarily there for leadership.

“Part of the development piece is to show them how we bridge the gap from NCO to the officer.”

The training is a good way to develop stronger NCOs, Master Sgt. Shane T. Franklin, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program Far East director, said in the release.

The training “encompasses so much more than just martial arts,” he added. “Continuum of force, rules of engagement, conduct, weapons handling, safety, leadership … it encompasses all the different fields.”

The exercise will soon move into its second phase, where both classroom and field training will be used to teach tactics, techniques and procedures that are important for peacekeeping operations, Osborne said in the release.

The Mongolian unit is scheduled to replace another deployed to Afghanistan in December. The Marines will teach the unit vital peacekeeping operations such as checkpoint operations, patrolling, immediate action drills and riot control.

Marines will also gain knowledge from the exercise, Osborne said in the release. “I believe any time we work with another country’s military, it enhances our war-fighting capabilities,” he said.

“We could just as easily be the Marine detachment in Iraq with [the Mongolians] on our flank,” he said in the release. “The better we understand some of these countries, in this case the Mongols, if we were to be alongside them in a peacekeeping operation, we have a better understanding on what to expect.”

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