The 10-day course is designed to familiarize MAF soldiers with tactics and procedures associated with operating small boats and conducting patrols along waterways, a skill set not commonly taught to Mongolian soldiers.
The course is being taught by Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion and is split into two parts; the first part taught MAF soldiers basic water survival tactics. The second part of the training, currently taking place, is small boat riverine operations training course along a river near the Five Hills Training Area.
The basic water survival tactics course took place at a pool in Ulaanbaatar where the Marines ensured the Mongolian soldiers were proficient in basic swimming skills prior to testing them on the river.
“We train the soldiers in the pool to get them comfortable in the water,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Kyle Malone, one of the course instructors assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. “If something happens to them, if they fall off the boat and into the river, they can revert back their techniques and be able to swim to shore.”
The basic water survival tactics covered in-depth details of proper form, coordination and breathing techniques provided with close supervision and coaching from the Marines. The initial course also challenged the Mongolian soldiers as they were separated into groups of five and competed in a swimming relay. The relay consisted of basic callisthenic movements such as push-ups, curl ups and three basic water skills: breast stroke, treading water and floating.
“It has been a great experience working with them,” Malone added, a local of Mooresville, North Carolina. “They are eager to learn and have come a long way since the first day we started and hopefully that will transition when we get into the riverine phase.”
After the swimming class, the course transitioned to a field environment where the second part of the training is currently underway by the Tuul River. Here the soldiers are being tested on assembling combat rubberized raiding craft, or CRRCs, and are beginning their training in operating the CRRCs to increase their proficiency in riverine operations.
Over the next few days the MAF soldiers will continue training with the CRRCs, working to perfect their techniques in loading and unloading, executing vessel-borne patrols, and using the CRRCs for transportation of personnel and supplies.
“There’s no telling where the soldiers might be or where their operations might take place,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Nate Hitchcock, assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. “So it’s good to have the riverine operations capability so the training could be utilized whether on deployment or any peacekeeping missions.”
Riverine operations training course is just one of many training opportunities designed to enhance interoperability between the Mongolian soldiers and their multinational counterparts participating in Khaan Quest 2016.
“We have learned a lot and established a good relationship with our Mongolian counterparts,” said Hitchcock. “(They) are eager and very quick to learn and I believe my fellow Marines who are also instructing in the riverine course can say the same exact thing.”
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.