FIVE HILLS TRAINING AREA, Mongolia --
Nested between the rolling hills of Mongolia in a seemingly uninhabited area, lies the Peace Support Center, where the Khaan Quest 2015 command post exercise was conducted June 27-30.
Eleven countries participated in a United Nations peacekeeping mission to a fictional country called “Zuba.” Complementary to the tactical actions taken in the field training exercise, decisions were made in this computer-based scenario to hone operational skillsets that will be vital to Mongolian forces during their U.N. mission deployments.
The scenario deployed a multinational brigade to Zuba under a U.N. mandate in the midst of significant civil turmoil. Non-state actors had been causing chaos throughout the country and it was the responsibility of this U.N.-directed brigade to maintain security and safety in the area.
“U.N. missions are highly complex,” said Karen J. Finkenbinder, a rule of law, justice and reconciliation advisor with the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute. “The military is not in charge – they’re part of a team. Knowing how to work with that team is essential.”
Finkenbinder was one of several role-players in the scenario meant to add realism for the battalions. An argumentative mayor one day could show up as an obstinate media reporter the next.
The CPX was implemented with a “crawl, walk, run” approach. Classroom learning and scenario familiarization started June 20, which educated staff on the background of the country, basic military planning procedures, as well as the various international organizations they would be working with during the conduct of the exercise.
“The hardest part of the exercise is working in this integrated mission environment,” said Finkenbinder. “This isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan; it is not a stability operation, it’s a peacekeeping operation.”
Each battalion was tasked with various aspects of the peacekeeping mission, such as providing security support to humanitarian organizations, combating hostile forces and human trafficking, as well as managing media issues and developing a solid plan to communicate with the public.
The exercise developed valuable skills that will be necessary in a real peacekeeping environment.
“Peacekeeping is where our Pacific partners operate” said Finkenbinder. “Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is where [the U.S.] needs to be.”
The Khaan Quest command post exercise is hosted annually as part of Khaan Quest by the Mongolian Armed Forces and co-sponsored by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and U.S. Army, Pacific.