U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently visited Mongolia on a ten-day trip to Asia. "I wanted to visit Mongolia," said Mr. Hagel, "because it's a valued partner of the United States. As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, Mongolia has a growing stake in regional and global security. On the basis of these many shared interests, our nations built strong economic, diplomatic and security ties."
During the visit, the U.S. and Mongolia signed a joint vision statement highlighting the importance of enhancing defense cooperation and supporting Mongolia’s peacekeeping capabilities.
The United States provides Mongolia with $2 million a year in military aid and spends about $1 million on training programs for the country's armed forces. Mongolia continues to be a strong partner in coalition operations, with approximately 350 troops still serving in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Hagel thanked Mongolia for its participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations and its previous ten rotations of troops in Iraq.
The Mongolian military, which has about 10,000 troops, is expanding as the country builds a 3,000-member brigade intended to specialize in peacekeeping operations. "Mongolia wants to be more than a passive observer in the international arena," said Mongolian Defense Minister Bat-Erdene. "We want to be actively engaged in international operations and in strengthening world and regional peace."
A strong U.S.-Mongolia defense relationship is important to America's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. "There are many challenges facing all nations of this region today," said Defense Secretary Hagel, "but also many opportunities. We must continue to work together to seize these opportunities as well as build a better future for all of our people."