More than 100 participants, service members and civilians alike, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in commemoration of a completion of an engineer civic action program for a local school in Zuunmod, Mongolia, as part of the annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise, Khaan Quest 2016.
The dormitory project started in March as a joint effort with the multinational team assisting with laying a foundation, and installing windows, electrical wiring and plumbing. After a month of working together, the project finally reached its completion.
“In construction, foundation means the base or groundwork that supports everything built above it, such as the dormitory here,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Bilton, deputy commanding general for operations of U.S. Army Pacific. “It is appropriate that a school like 04 be selected for this project as education represents the foundation of a country’s prosperity. This is a great investment in Mongolia’s future.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the dormitory’s doors and its attendance was filled with high-ranking military officers from participating countries and local Mongolian officials to honor the joint efforts of the engineers. The event also allowed Mongolian leaders to show appreciation to the efforts of the service members by presenting certificates to their respective leaders. The students, who will ultimately benefit from the project, also showed their appreciation by performing a popular Mongolian pop song and a traditional Mongolian dance with a modern twist.
“The students in and around the Tuv province travel a great distance to come to school,” said U.S. Army Capt. Matt Wright, from the 411th Engineer Battalion. “The dormitory serves as a safe place to stay overnight for the students to eat, sleep and bathe during the week.”
U.S. Marines from the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, U.S. Soldiers from the 871st Engineer Company, 411th Engineer Battalion and U.S. Sailors from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4, along with Mongolian, Singaporean and Indian Armed Forces’ efforts made it possible to complete the 4th School Dormitory project.
As Khaan Quest concludes, the service members who participated here leave feeling a sense of accomplishment.
“It was a great experience, working with the different armed forces,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Thomas Gatton, with the 9th Engineer Support Battalion. “We had a lot of fun. We learned from the kids, the teachers and just participating in all of the events they had for us.”
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.