Five Hills Training Area, Mongolia – The luminous clouds, deep blue sky and luscious green hills set the scene as service members and distinguished guests from around the Pacific region gathered to experience several traditional sporting events on Mongolian Culture night for Khaan Quest 2012 exercise, Aug. 18, 2012.
Khaan Quest is a regularly scheduled multinational exercise sponsored by the U.S. Army Pacific and hosted annually by the Mongolia Armed Forces held at the Mongolian Armed Forces Peace Support Center in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Throughout the exercise different nations are highlighted with a culture night aimed at strengthening multinational relationships and fostering camaraderie.
“This is one of the biggest events for the exercise,” said Lt. Col. B. Bat-Erdene, Khaan Quest 2012 field training director, Mongolian Armed Forces. “We wanted to share our Mongolian culture with the other nations’ participants.”
The evening featured a vibrant display of wrestling, archery and horse racing.
Service members from other nations were encouraged to participate in the sporting events, also called the “three games of men,” which are generally held during local festivals and holidays.
Sgt. Joseph Robinson, 297th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, Alaska National Guard, decided to accept a wrestling match with a Mongolian Armed Forces soldier.
“This was my first time participating in this style of Mongolian wresting and it was very difficult,” said Robinson. “These guys have been doing this for quite a long time and they have effective techniques to take their opponent to the ground.”
Robinson said he was impressed with the various customs and courtesies involved in Mongolian wrestling, especially the great sportsmanship from all the competitors.
Throughout the evening the atmosphere was filled with the stomping of horse hooves, the melodies of local children and the roar of the crowd cheering for the competitors.
“All the soldiers come here to train for peacekeeping and to share their military experiences,” said Bat-Erdene. “But we’d also like them to make friends so they realize the world isn’t that big of a place, it’s a small world and they could see each other anywhere.”