Asia Defense

A First: US and Mongolia Hold Air Force-to-Air Force Talks

The exercise marks a deepening of the U.S.-Mongolia military relations.

Ankit Panda
A First: US and Mongolia Hold Air Force-to-Air Force Talks
Credit: Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Haux

In the first engagement of its kind, the commander of the Mongolian Air Force Command visited Hawaii for talks with the deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces.

Commander of the Mongolian Air Force Command Brig. Gen. Enkhbayar Ochir and Pacific Air Forces Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Russ Mack held talks between March 26 and 28.

These so-called airman-to-airman, or A2A, talks are designed to allow both sides to develop a rapport between senior officers and share best practices across a range of issue areas.

“As we launch our inaugural Airman-to-Airman talks, I hope we will use this venue to ultimately build and develop a solid roadmap for future engagements, exchanges and activities,” Mack said in a statement at the start of the meeting.

“I look forward to fruitful and candid discussions from both sides that will positively shape our military-to-military relationship.”

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The United States and Mongolia have been developing their military-to-military ties in recent years. The banner exercise between the two sides is the Khaan Quest series of exercises; the 2018 iteration of that exercise focused on peacekeeping operations.

“This has been very great to talk, not just [at] the leadership level, but at the action officer and the subject matter expert level. My expectation in the future would be to expand the subject matter experts and the specialties we discuss,” Ochir said.

“We understand the support we will be able to help in the safety and security of the Indo-Pacific region through our Mongolian operations and exercises.”

Over the two days of talks, Mack and Ochir shared perspectives on improving air operations. According to a statement by U.S. Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs, the participating “delegation represented experts from a variety of specialties, to include safety, personnel, maintenance and logistics.”

The two countries are expected to continue talks between senior air force officials. The next round is expected to take place in Mongolia.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces, or PACAF, is a major command of the United States Air Force headquarters in Hawaii at Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam.

PACAF oversees more than 31,000 airmen and has more than 300 aircraft available to carry out its missions to support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility.

The Mongolian Air Force is fairly modest in its capabilities, relying primarily on Mi-8 and Mi-161 attack/transport helicopters.

Apart from hosting the annual multinational Khaan Quest exercises, Mongolia conducts a range of bilateral military exercises with Russia and india.