FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia --
The Peace Support Center here is just a few kilometers from the field training taking place during exercise Khaan Quest 2013.
While troops sharpen tactical procedures in the rolling hills of Mongolia, military decision-makers from multiple nations are honing operational skills behind closed doors.
Hosted annually by the Mongolian Armed Forces and co-sponsored this year by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, military personnel from nine countries took part in a scenario-driven command post exercise, Aug. 10-13.
The scenario placed a multinational brigade of troops in a fictional country facing significant civil unrest. In the midst of the chaos, a notional earthquake strikes and the team is forced into action.
“Each battalion has its own individual challenges,” said Colleen Ruru, with the Center for Civil-Military Relations – Monterey, Calif. “We have (ground) maneuver battalions, and this year we’ve added an aviation battalion for the first time.
“We’ve thrown a lot of challenges at them, and they’ve risen to every single one of them, if not exceeding our expectations,” Ruru added.
The CPX was executed with a “crawl, walk, run” approach. Classroom learning and scenario familiarization started Aug. 4, which ramped up to staff exercise designed to put everyone on the same page with regard to the military planning process.
The notional battalions were tasked with managing various aspects of peacekeeping operations such as coordinating multi-agency disaster response, providing security support to humanitarian organizations, combating criminal elements and human trafficking, as well as managing media issues and developing a solid plan to communicate with the public.
By the time participants started “running” on Aug. 10, they were working seamlessly with one another.
To add to the realism of the training, U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and other active-duty service members acted as role players, playing local disaster response managers one day and tenacious media representatives the next.
“This is the best thing that a cadet could ask for,” said Rebekah Williams, from Eagle River, Alaska, and an ROTC cadet with University of Alaska, Anchorage. “We’re jumping in on a higher level than we normally would be, and we’re working multilaterally, which is something that many of our officers don’t get to do, at least not on a regular basis.”
While the scenario was new to some, many participants had compiled a significant background in civil-military operations, and they strived to leave a lasting impression on those with less experience in civil-military operations.
“We hope to help the other units and bring them up to speed on counter-insurgency work, humanitarian work, as well as bilateral and joint operations,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Albert Bellamy, a native of Wadsworth, Ohio and acting as the operations officer of 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment during the CPX.
“We’ve been out ahead of every task, and been able to anticipate the needs of every problem that the instructors have given us,” Bellamy said.
Ruru, who led the planning for this year’s CPX, praised the multinational team for its stellar performance.
“This is my fifth or sixth Khaan Quest, and every year we’ve seen continual improvement in relationships and sharing of information, which ultimately builds on interoperability,” Ruru said.
Exercise Khaan Quest, in its eleventh iteration, officially ended Aug. 14.