Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj interviews APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai.

Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj interviews APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai during a Mongolian workshop entitled "“Northeast and Central Asia Transnational Security Challenges: Ungoverned Spaces – Physical and Virtual” Sept. 7.

During a recent workshop in Mongolia in which the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) was a co-host, it was discovered that an APCSS alumnus recently completed a book. A graduate of APCSS’ Executive Course 2008-2,  Lt. Col.  Gonchigdorj “Nyam” Nyamdorj released a new book entitled “Back to Baghdad.”

A lieutenant colonel in Mongolian Army and the Editor-in-Chief of Mongolian Armed Forces Newspaper “Soyombo,” Nyamdorj wrote his book in his spare time after work and on the weekends over the span of more than a year. Nyamdorj attended the Outreach workshop to cover it for his newspaper and was interviewing APCSS Acting Directer Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai when he mentioned the book and presented copies to APCSS as a gift.

Before interviewing Hirai, Nyamdorj explained his motivation for writing the book.

Nyamdorj said that when he attended courses and traveled, he was often asked  “where is Mongolia?” More importantly, Nyamdorj said he’s also met many people who didn’t know Mongolia had troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that compelled him write the book.

Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj presents his book to APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai

Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj presents his book "Back to Baghdad" as a gift to APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai.

“The Mongolian people are very proud of the Mongolian troop’s duty in Iraq,” explained Nyamdorj.

According to APCSS Alumni Chief John Gasner, it’s no surprise to see another APCSS alumnus publish a book.

“We don’t track exact numbers in terms of how many of our alumni are published, but I know there are at least ten who have written books,” said Gasner, “many of which were supported by their APCSS knowledge and experience.

“The Mongolians consistently send fellows of the highest caliber to our courses; some of these alumni have made significant contributions to their countries national security policy and strategy.  Nyan is one of over 150 Mongolians who have attended APCSS courses and he continues to remain connected with APCSS and his classmates.”


Brief introduction to the book “Back to Baghdad”

In 2003, when American soldiers approached Baghdad, Saddam Hussein stated that: “800 years ago, Baghdad fell to Mongolian invaders. Now a second such threat is upon us.”  These words were heard by people around the world. The book talked what had happened in Iraq 800 years ago.

In September, 2003, Mongolian troops back to Baghdad but they came in order to keep the peace and democracy on Iraqi soil.  The book provides an excellent overview of the Mongolian Armed Forces efforts during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Mongolian troops had only trained in times of peace with focus on country’s defense until this deployment to a theater of war. So it was vital to Mongolian troops to have decent psychological and physical combat readiness and preparation. The Mongolian Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces’ consideration to this issue was one of the cores of successful mission completion.

Mongolian troops’ duty in Iraq was constantly under the tension of danger as our soldiers faced almost daily shootings, explosions, direct fire and suicide bomb attacks. Many mortar and artillery rounds fell near where our guards kept watch. While everyone else inside the camp sought refuge in shelters, Mongolian soldiers remained at their posts to keep the base safe. Despite the ever present danger, the contingency leadership found time to organize cultural and educational workshops for the personnel. Mongolian troops in Iraq also improved their own living quarters which became the envy of other coalition troops. This book details their endeavours.

 APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai shows his gratitude to Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj for his gift.

APCSS Acting Director Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James T. Hirai shows his gratitude to Lt. Col. Gonchigdorj Nyamdorj for his gift.

One of the values of this book will be an opportunity of examining and drawing the lessons from the past to determine future campaigns based on the specific experiences. Mongolians’ duty performance improved from one contingent to the next.

Finally, this book is the first book written by Mongolian writer in English which is about the “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Readers sincerely appreciate the writer of this book Lt.Col. Nyamdorj.G., Editor in Chief of the Mongolian Armed Forces Newspaper Soyombo. Many books about past and present Mongolian military endeavours are published in our own language for the domestic media. A book written in English will appeal to a much wider, international readership. It is also the first such specific account describing how Mongolian Troops served in Iraq from August 2003 until September 2008. Since then the narrative has become more significant as we can now embrace the future with a clear understanding of Mongolian troops’ effectiveness and courage.

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