Mongolians Play Key Role in Iraqi Freedom
By Jim Garamone
ULAN BATOR, Mongolia,
– Mongolia is a small country with a powerful warrior tradition.
But today, the country consciously is tying its reputation to peacekeeping,
and Mongolia’s latest area of operations is Iraq.
Honor guards brave
the cold to welcome Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during
the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff’s visit to Mongolia.
by Jim Garamone
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
visited Mongolia today to speak with national and defense leaders
and to meet with soldiers who are getting ready to go to Iraq.
He thanked the Mongolian leaders for their support in Operation
Iraqi Freedom, and he said the Mongolian people "should be
very proud of the professionalism and discipline of their forces
The last time
Mongolian soldiers were in Iraq was in 1258. They destroyed Baghdad
then. Now, the Mongolian military has 173 soldiers of the 150th
Elite Peacekeeping Battalion in Hillah, Iraq. All reports, said
Myers, are that the unit is doing an excellent job as part of
the Multinational Division Central- South. The division is commanded
by a Polish general and contains troops from a number of different
nationalities. Myers said the Mongolian unit’s members have proven
themselves as infantrymen, as convoy escorts, as engineers and
in providing medical assistance to the Iraqi people.
a large country geographically; it is about the size of Alaska.
But it’s small in population, with about 2.5 million people. The
country is located between Russia and China, and until 1991 had
close relations with the Soviet Union. Modern Mongolia dates to
just after World War I.
military was a typical Soviet formation. Weapons and equipment
are 1960s- and 1970s-vintage and Soviet-made. The Mongolian army
still drives tanks and infantry vehicles from that era.
Gen. T. Togoo, chief of the Mongolian army general staff,
greets Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Myers is the first Joint Chiefs chairman
to visit Mongolia.
by Jim Garamone
said the army numbers about 45,000, and most of it still is configured
in the old Soviet style. Missions like that of the 150th Elite
Peacekeeping Battalion are what the Mongolians want to move toward,
said Col. L. Noov, a Mongolian army general staff member, in an
interview. The colonel said the units now follow the Soviet army
and division system. The Mongolians will move toward brigades
and battalions. The units will become lighter, with fewer tanks
and faster, more survivable transportation, the colonel said.
army commissioned and noncommissioned officers attend military
schools in other countries. One staff officer, for example, graduated
from the Army’s Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas. An NCO in the 150th proudly wears his U.S. Army Ranger
Tab on his Mongolian army uniform.
not a rich country. The average person earns about $400 per year.
Myers’ Mongolian counterpart, Maj. Gen. T. Togoo, said the soldiers
have learned lessons in Iraq, and that the second group of soldiers
to go later this month will benefit from that. The general said
the soldiers need new equipment and some new training, and that
changes are being made in the uniforms the troops wear.
personnel with the United Nations missions in the western Sahara
and in the Congo, as well as a 15-man team working with the Afghan
National Army to repair old Soviet artillery. The Mongolians are
training the Afghan soldiers to use the weapon.
M. Borbaatar, deputy chief of the Mongolian army general staff,
said the Mongolians are developing an area called Five Hills north
of the capital to train peacekeepers. He said U.S. Marines conducted
training there with the Mongolians and were impressed by the area
and the various terrains. He said the Marines taught the Mongolians
some peacekeeping techniques, and the Mongolians taught the Marines
long-range, horse-mounted patrols. He said the Marines "would
have been better if they stayed longer."
All the Mongolian
leaders clearly were delighted to meet with Myers, and they said
there is a lot of support for the peacekeeping mission from the
President Natsagyiyn Bagabandi speaks with Air Force Gen.
Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
during the chairman’s visit to Mongolia.
by Jim Garamone
will consult with the United States in transforming its military,
Borbaatar said. The next big step is developing an NCO corps for
the military. He said the NCOs are what make the American military
the best in the world, and the Mongolians will take a page from
the Mongolians for their hospitality and their help. He left Ulan
Bator and flew to Beijing, where he will hold a series of meetings
with Chinese Defense leaders.