Warfighters Aim for Peace during Khaan Quest 2011

Group of Marines
Group of Marines

FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia — Platoons from six nations marched toward the proving grounds of Five Hills Training Area Aug. 1 for the first day of the field training exercise portion of Exercise Khaan Quest 2011.

U.S. Marines, alongside troops from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Korea and Mongolia, took part in the training which included the Mongolian Armed Forces obstacle course, a martial arts exchange and a live-fire range with weapons used by the participating nations.

“We’ve had a lot of participants from different countries, which is really impressive,” said Maj. Myagmaraj Dorj, operations officer for Unit 311, Peace Support Operations Training Center, Mongolian Armed Forces.

“Today we conducted the live fire shooting and exercise, and, for me, that’s the most exciting part of the field training exercise so far,” Dorj said.

“All of the countries are doing a very good job on the range.”

Weapons used included the AK-47 automatic rifle, the RPK light machine gun and the MPK heavy machine gun. U.S. Marines supplied M-4 service rifles, M249 squad automatic weapons and M203 grenade launchers.

The AK-47 is the primary battle weapon for the soldiers of 2nd Battalion, Sikh Regiment, Indian Army, and their proficiency with the rifle was obvious.

“I was really impressed with the Sikh Regiment,” said Sgt. Dane Riddle, lane one firing point primary instructor, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. “They were disciplined and had very few shots off target.”

Riddle said other countries did well too, especially since some of them had never touched an AK-47 before.

“All of the countries who came through today did a very good job,” he said. “They all gained at least a minimum proficiency with all of the weapons.”

Riddle added the Mongolians’ experience with live fire ranges and safety also made the range successful.

“The Mongolians run a very safe range, and they’re really similar to the Marine Corps’ ranges,” Riddle said.

Service members from each country also tried their hands at martial arts, learning peace keeping and compliance techniques from Sgt. Edward Wisniewski, a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor with 1st Bn., 11th Marines, and other instructors.

Several Republic of Korea soldiers had a chance to show their skills as well.

“The Republic of Korea soldiers had some pretty cool techniques that took a few of our brown belt level moves to a whole new level,” said Wisniewski.

Another challenge facing Khaan Quest participants was the Mongolian Armed Forces obstacle course.

The course is approximately twice as long as a standard Marine Corps obstacle course. One of the most difficult obstacles was a balance beam suspended nearly eight feet from the ground.

Khaan Quest, and especially the field training exercise, was a great experience, Riddle said.

“Khaan Quest as a whole is a pretty cool opportunity for Marines to get out and do all kinds of peace keeping operations training,” he said. “Overall, it’s going pretty well, and all the Marines seem like they’re really into it. So far, it’s been a really good time.”

Dorj said he is looking forward to coming events.

“We are going to continue to execute this training the best we can, and I know everything will go smoothly,” Dorj said. “I would like to express my appreciation from the Mongolian soldiers to the U.S.

Pacific Command for co-organizing this exercise and to all of those who are participating with us.”