The Soviet Union military left Mongolia in the early 1990s and after the collapse of Socialism, Mongolia’s military sector experienced its “worst point” as the country cut defense spending during its challenging economic times.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, Mongolia started participating in peacekeeping missions throughout the world — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sierra Leone and South Sudan – and its defense cooperation and military activities improved. The current active defense cooperation has become a key way for the country to increase foreign investment at home and strengthen relations and cooperation between Mongolia and developed countries.
Today Mongolia has established agreements of defense cooperation with 32 countries, and the country is actively cooperating with 16 countries in defense, and can obtain military techniques and weapons from five countries under defense cooperation agreements. Military attaches from Mongolia are serving in five countries, and military attaches from Russia, China, the USA, South Korea, Turkey and Japan are currently working in Mongolia. Mongolian students and officers are studying in China, Russia, the USA, Germany, Turkey, India and France under scholarships, non-refundable aid and other programs.
Mongolia and Russia have a historic friendly defense relationship, and every year, around 50 students and officers go to Russia to gain defense academic education or attend defense short and med-term training programs. Russia also provides Mongolia with military facilities, assistance and training under its non-refundable aid.The two countries host the annual joint military exercise Selenge to strengthen bilateral military cooperation, and in recent years, Mongolian defense ministers started participating in the annual Moscow conference on international security and hold annual meetings with the Russian Minister of Defense to discuss strengthening defense relations and cooperation between the two countries and broaden mutually beneficial defense cooperation.
During the 1990s, defense cooperation between China and Mongolia started strengthening, and every year, over 100 Mongolians students and officers study through a scholarship of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, and several Chinese students study at the Mongolian Defense University. High-level visits and dialogues between the defense sectors of the two countries have also dramatically increased in recent years.The defense ministries of the two countries host joint exercises on combating terrorism and natural disasters.
In 1991, an English training provided by the USA to Mongolian military officers was the first step in the development of a defense relationship between the two countries, and Mongolia’s active participation in international peacekeeping operations is making this relationship stronger. The USA has made great contributions to building required facilities to annually host the Khaan Quest military exercise in Mongolia.
As the defense ministries of South Korea and Mongolia signed a cooperation agreement in 1999 to take bilateral defense ties to a new level, defense cooperation has been developing steadily. Nearly 10 Mongolian officers go to study in South Korea every year and some experienced military officers from the Mongolian Ministry of Defense have completed two-year academic knowledge in regional and international security in South Korea. The countries have also hosted joint exercises to exchange experiences.
Defense cooperation between Mongolia and Turkey has been moving to a new level in recent years, and Turkey has agreed to upgrade Mongolian military facilities and provide training cources for military and police officers in Turkey to improve their knowledge and skills.
The Mongolian Ministry of Defense is also closely collaborating with the Japanese Defense Ministry to train Mongolian students in defense in Japan and improve the capacity of the Mongolian defense engineering sector. Japan will be implementing a program to improve the capacity of Mongolian military health sector next year and the Japanese side is reviewing a program to increase the capacity of the Mongolian air force. If Japan agrees to implement this program, it will be carried out in the years to come.
As hosting the Khaan Quest military exercise in Tavan Tolgoi military base near Ulaanbaatar every year has been significant for strengthening military cooperation between Mongolia and other countries, especially developed countries with great military capabilities, Mongolia is focusing on expanding this military exercise to include more countries.
Countries across the world, especially those playing significant roles in regional and global security, strive to improve their military capabilities and expand their military cooperation during globally challenging times to address issues such as terrorism and nuclear threats. By taking advantage of this trend, Mongolia has the opportunity to vastly strengthen its independence and security, and increase investment in the defense sector by proactively taking part in international peace keeping missions and hosting joint military exercises with its defense partners.