US Pacific Command co-hosts peacekeeping drills in Mongolia
By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 24, 2016
Khaan Quest, an annual peacekeeping exercise co-hosted by U.S. Pacific Command and the Mongolian Armed Forces that brings western troops close to China and Russia, is underway near Mongolia’s capital.
U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. ambassador to Mongolia Jennifer Zimdahl Galt attended Sunday’s opening ceremony at the Five Hills Training Facility near Ulaanbaatar with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.
“[Participants] have come from near and far to our beautiful country bound by a single cause of world peace,” Elbegdorj said in a PACOM statement. “Today, Khaan Quest is universally recognized as one of the most prestigious regional events with ever-increasing reputation, significance and participation.”
This year’s drills, which run through June 4 and feature about 2,000 troops from 40 countries, serve as the capstone for the United Nations Global Peace Operations Initiative, a program that provides pre-deployment training to nations preparing to support U.N. peacekeeping missions.
Khaan Quest will include a field-training drill that “aims to hone servicemembers’ skills in peacekeeping operational procedures through training in weapons familiarization, small-boat operations, survival training and a multinational platoon competition,” the statement said. There will also be a command-post exercise to support Mongolia’s modernization goals, civic-engineering projects and health-care training.
Harris said this year’s Khaan Quest training will “take us to the next level.”
“The need for teamwork is proven again and again, the most recent examples being the tragic earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador,” he said. “It reminds us that all nations, no matter how rich or powerful, can use the help of our global community from time to time.”
Adm. Harry Harris, left, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj attend an opening ceremony for Khaan Quest 2016 at Five Hills Training Area, Mongolia, May 22, 2016. Khaan Quest is an annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise conducted in Mongolia and is the capstone exercise for this year's United Nations Global Peace Operations Initiative program.
HILDA BECERRA/U.S. NAVY