- By Aditi NangiaAditi Nangia is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
While most are setting timeframes for troop withdrawal, one country is surprisingly joining the fight in Afghanistan: Mongolia. Under its “third neighbor” policy effort to reach out to allies other than China and Russia, the most sparsely populated country in the world will send 130 soldiers to Kabul in August and a further 23 trainers in September.
The last major operation the country’s army faced was in 1945, when it helped the Soviet Union invade Manchuria. Like Afghanistan, much of Mongolia’s arsenal is Soviet-made from the 1960s and 1970s, giving troops a surprising advantage when training their Afghan counterparts who are using equally antiquated machinery. Deputy Chief Gen. Y. Choijamts said:
It is one of the best ways to show that Mongolia is not only thinking about itself. It will show we’re contributing to regional stability.
[The Afghans] have Russian equipment; we have Russian equipment. It’s a lot easier for them to work with us.
The last time the Mongolian army was in Afghanistan in such substantial numbers was more than 800 years ago, when Genghis Khan stormed through on his way to Persia.
Mongolian troops will undoubtedly join American-led efforts in the surge that isn’t called a surge.
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty images