Lt. Gen. Stalder Tours Five Hills Training Area
By Cpl. Daniel H. Woodall
| | August 15, 2009
FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia --
Lieutenant Gen. Keith J. Stalder, commanding general, Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, visited the Five Hills Training Area Aug. 15 to attend the opening ceremony of Khaan Quest 2009 and to meet with participating U.S. forces.
Khaan Quest 2009, a multi-national peace support training exercise, began earlier this month with the United Nations Staff Officers Course and the Engineering Civic Action Program but officially opened in the Five Hills Training Area, Aug. 15. Five Hills Training Area, located near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is a large joint-training area which provides units with large field training areas and classrooms for planning peacekeeping operations.
On Aug. 15, Stalder, along with Mongolian dignitaries, spoke to the large audience at Five Hills Training regarding his views of Khaan Quest 2009.
"I want to thank the organizers of Khaan Quest for their hard work," Stalder said while speaking to a crowd of more than 400 Khaan Quest participants and visiting dignitaries during the opening ceremony. "Also I want to thank the [Mongolian Armed Forces] for hosting this exercise and foreign units for traveling here to Mongolia. Here, [all Khaan Quest participants] will learn vital medical and peacekeeping skills which they will use around the world."
While visiting the area, Stalder also met with several of Mongolia's most prominent public figures including Mongolian president Ts. Elbegdorj, the Mongolian minister of defense, L. Bold, and the chief of the Mongolian general staff, Maj. Gen. Ts. Byambjav.
Immediately following the opening ceremony, Stalder attended a ceremony for the opening of a new park at Five Hills Training Area where he ceremoniously planted trees with Elbegdorj and Bold. Stalder also toured the Five Hills Training Area living quarters of the Mongolian contingent participating in Khaan Quest field exercises as well as other international units including the U.S., India, South Korea, Cambodia and Japan. Stalder also made time to speak with the U.S. contingent, Marines with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., regarding the importance of their mission in Mongolia.
Toward the end of his visit, Stalder sat down with Mongolian Maj. Gen. Byambjav where he expressed his gratitude toward the MAF for graciously hosting participating international forces and their global impact.
"The professionalism and courage of the Mongolians has been an inspiration for global peace operations," Stalder said to Byambjav. "[The Mongolian's] work in creating amore stable Asia is greatly appreciated. Mongolians have a powerful influence in the world and the fact that Mongolia is deploying more units to Afghanistan in the near future shows a big commitment from a relatively small armed force. I hope the situation in Afghanistan becomes less violent and I wish the safety of your soldiers."
At Five Hills Training Area, the field training and command post exercises are slated to begin Aug. 17 while the Khaan Quest 2009 closing ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 25.