American MIlitary's Civil Affairs Team trains Mongolian forces

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - It’s not every day you would expect to see American Soldiers in Mongolia, but members of the 84th Civil Affairs Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., conducted a three-week training mission there in June.

The seven-man Civil Affairs Team from 3rd Team, Alpha Company, 84th Civil Affairs Battalion, known as CAT 8413, trained and worked 20 miles west of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with Mongolian forces for Khaan Quest 2014.

The exercise originally began in 2003 between the United States and Mongolia, said Capt. Jeffrey Y. Cho, team leader for CAT 8413. It now has increased to a multilateral exercise with 22 nations. The team worked with many other nations including the United Kingdom, South Korea and Singapore.

Khaan Quest is a part of the I Corps Pacific Rebalance mission under the U.S. Pacific Command to enhance security and integrate other service components to create unified land operations within the Pacific Rim.

CAT 8413 provided assistance to the Mongolian Armed Forces, or MAF, during the peacekeeping practice drill. The 1st Mongolian Battalion of the MAF is preparing for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan later this year. CAT 8413 assisted in teaching members of the MAF the Military Decision Making Process, or MDMP, used by the United States Army.

“The Mongolians before were using a Russian form of decision making process and recently they decided to adopt the U.S. form of MDMP,” said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony R. Medina, team sergeant for CAT 8413.

Along with practicing peacekeeping scenarios the team also performed veterinary assistance to livestock and provided routine medical aid for Mongolian civilians. Approximately 7,000 locals received dental work and other treatments during the course of Khaan Quest.

Cho and Medina spent long days training soldiers sometimes lasting from early morning to late in the night.

Despite the language barrier between American and Mongolian soldiers, the MAF personnel were eager to learn and hardworking from their battalion commander down to the lowest staff member, Cho said.

Besides concentrating on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the team members were able to experience Mongolian culture. A few team members were able to participate in cultural ceremonies, traditional herding practices and ate authentic Mongolian meals.

Through working together and immersing themselves in the culture, a brotherhood formed. Friendships grew within the three weeks and a few team members learned some Mongolian words and phrases to better communicate with MAF soldiers.

There was camaraderie among them, Medina said. “I think the most important point of Khaan Quest was the camaraderie built between all of the countries involved.”

The mission created a better understanding of Mongolian culture for the team and taught them more about standard operating procedures for foreign militaries. Working in Civil Affairs provides Cho and Medina the opportunity to travel to Mongolia and other places many people have never been to build bonds with all types of people.

After completing Khaan Quest successfully, leaders of CAT 8413 left Mongolia with confidence knowing that they are well-prepared to accomplish any mission they are tasked with.


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