A platoon of approximately 60 service members with the Mongolian Armed Forces participated in the culminating event of a course designed to teach them how to counter mines and improvised explosive devices during Khaan Quest 2016 at Five Hills Training Area, June 1.
The 10-day course was led by an instructor cadre of U.S. Soldiers, Marines and Royal Canadian Armed Forces and introduced MAF members to proper procedures when encountering improvised explosive devices (IED), unexploded ordnance and mine fields during deployment or peacekeeping missions.
The soldiers conducting the training are scheduled to deploy on a United Nations Peacekeeping mission later this year to South Sudan where this training may be put to use.
Like most military training courses, the crawl, walk, run approach was used with the students, starting in the classroom before this final training event.
“The training started in a classroom and focused on IED and unexploded ordnance awareness,” said 1st Lt. William Lueck, one of the course instructors. “From there, we worked on various techniques that will prepared them for their culminating event, which has different scenarios that will test all of the knowledge and skills the soldiers learned in the classroom.”
Minefield self-extraction, patrolling and route search techniques are just a few of many tactics the soldiers learned about in the previous days of training.
Each day the MAF soldiers were taught something new then tested these techniques in the rocky hillsides surrounding the camp. Probing for mines, marking lanes through minefields, using metal detectors to sweep for explosives, searching vehicles, and handling casualties were some of the primary skills taught and trained on leading up to the end of the course.
All these skills were put to the test as the soldiers conducted a convoy consisting of three trucks with armored personnel carriers leading the way. As they moved down the gravel roads winding between hillsides they encountered an angry mob of simulated protestors and insurgents, causing them to go on full alert and deliberately apply all that they’ve learned in an unknown, fluid scenario set up by the instructors who had been training them.
Immediately, the mob started yelling at the soldiers, telling them to go away and attempted to physically engage with the soldiers. As the situation escalated, the service members were required to neutralize a suicide bomber and detain one other insurgent.
After neutralizing the lethal threats, MAF members searched the protestors and their vehicle to ensure no other physical threats were present.
“The MAF soldiers have been excellent students,” Lueck continued. “They are very keen and eager to learn which makes it a lot of fun to work with and share our knowledge with them.”
After completing the first scenario, the soldiers continued to their next test: navigating through a mine field. Three small groups carefully inspected the mine-filled road to ensure safe passage of the convoy.
Soldiers with mine detectors led the way, placing small flags by each mine as a fellow soldier followed along spray painting a lane for the convoy to follow.
It was painfully slow-going; evidence the soldiers cared about what they were doing, cared about the convoy they were clearing a safe passage for, and intent on applying everything they had learned.
“In the past 10 days, the soldiers have been learning a lot and conducting drills,” said Junior Sergeant Bat-ireetui Palginnyam. “The training has been helpful because they will likely face these kinds of extractions when they deploy to the Sudan.”
This training was one of many events taking place during Khaan Quest 2016. With the exercise ending June 4th, the soldiers are thankful they had this opportunity.
“We have learned so much,” Palginnyam continued. “The instructors are very experienced soldiers and we have learned a great deal from our course.”
Khaan Quest 2016 is an annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise hosted by the Mongolian Armed Forces, co-sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command, and supported by U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Khaan Quest, in its 14th iteration, is the capstone exercise for this year’s Global Peace Operations Initiative program. The exercise focuses on training activities to enhance international interoperability, develop peacekeeping capabilities, build to mil-to-mil relationships, and enhance military readiness.