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NEWS | May 3, 2011

Mongolians' visit to Alaska continues success of State Partnership Program

By Major Guy Hayes, U.S. Army Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska - During Operation Arctic Care, members of the Alaska National Guard escorted three Mongolian delegates throughout the state April 18-22 as part of the Alaska National Guard-Mongolia State Partnership Program.

Arctic Care, an annual two-week mission where more than 300 government and military medical specialists from across the U.S. converge on remote Alaskan villages, provided the Mongolian delegates an opportunity to see the technologies used in a unique setting to treat patients.

Brought together in 2003 by the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, Alaska and Mongolia were partnered because the two regions resemble each other in size, terrain, natural disasters and similar challenges, with many citizens living in rural areas.

Every year, Alaska and Mongolia engage each other during joint exercises and send delegates to each country to learn more about each other’s programs and policies while continuing a long-term relationship with mutual support.

During Arctic Care, Mongolia sent representatives from the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Management Agency to observe the medical exercise in Northway, Alaska.

They also had the opportunity to visit the Basset Army Hospital, Elmendorf Hospital, Tanana Chiefs Conference, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Northway K-12 school.

"The highlight of the trip was travelling to Northway to see medical services being provided in a remote community,” said Army Maj. Wayne Don, Alaska-Mongolia State Partnership director.

"The remoteness and challenges associated with providing care in a small village resonated with the Mongolians because they are faced with similar challenges for people in their country who live in the rural areas of Mongolia.

"They saw firsthand how similar our challenges are logistically and professionally in providing for an underserved population.”

The Arctic Care exercise also highlighted the Guard, Reserve, active-duty and civilian organizations ability to work together to help the people of Alaska, "a joint cooperation that is important for the Mongolians to see in action,” said Don.

"It was also important for them to see the interagency cooperation required to pull off this event since their organizations tend to compartmentalize duties and not necessarily engage in interagency activities,” he said.

The Alaska National Guard will travel to Mongolia this summer for Khaan Quest 2011, a multi-lateral peacekeeping operations training exercise running from Aug 1-12.

Mongolia and Alaska have participated in Khaan Quest since 2006, which is designed to strengthen the capabilities of U.S. and Mongolian armed forces in international operations worldwide.