The first large-scale Combined Exercises conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and the Mongolian Army concluded on Sunday, May 19. The activity was called China-Mongolia Steppe Partner 2024 and involved more than 100 armored vehicles of different types, which carried out maneuvers in the steppes of Dornogovi province, Mongolia.

Regarding the objective of the exercises, China’s public television (CCTV) reported that it aimed to enhance interoperability between both armies for combat against criminal armed groups in the region, building on a previous smaller-scale precedent in 2023 with the combined exercise called “Border Defense Cooperation 2023” held in China. Operations commenced on the 12th of this month, involving the deployment of Chinese troops via trains starting on the 6th and arriving at their destination in Mongolia three days later.

In this regard, Ji Qiqi, the commander of the participating Chinese forces, told CCTV: “This is the first time that the Chinese and Mongolian armies have organized a joint exercise, focusing on exchanges and learning from each other, refining capabilities through realistic combat, and safeguarding regional peace and stability.”

The execution of the exercises involved the deployment of reconnaissance drones, attacks on various strategic points in concentric sequence, and the use of portable air defense missiles against simulated targets. Additionally, self-propelled 120mm Type 05 mortars and Type 11 (ZTL-11) of the PLA were used, complemented by Type 08 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) for troop transport.

According to several analysts in the region, the conduct of the China-Mongolia Steppe Partner 2024 was just the beginning of future exercises that both countries intend to carry out. China has highlighted its capacity to deploy significant resources to assist neighboring Mongolia if necessary, and the fact that these were coordinated exercises involving high-ranking Mongolian officials indicates Mongolia’s interest in strengthening ties with the Asian Giant, with which it shares a long border where various criminal groups operate.

*Image credits: Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China; CCTV

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