Fishing in Mongolia Redux

At a recent meet-up with James of England (JoE) I spoke about an Enlisted Leadership Development program that I initiated, developed, and implemented in Mongolia almost ten years ago. JoE asked and I promised to post on my libertarian efforts with the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF), so please blame this post on him not me.

First of all writing the words initiated, developed, and implemented is much easier than actually doing it. It was an uphill battle for almost two years from the time my proposal was first shot down to the day that President Bush met and thanked the USMC Sergeant Major in Ulaanbaatar who was in charge of the first deployment. The USMC was in Mongolia to provide support and training for MAF troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and maybe a little bit because of their location between Russia and China. The Mongolian leaders call the US their third neighbor. By the way for my efforts in implementing the Mongolian Enlisted Leadership Development Exchange Program (MELDEP), I earned the nickname Chinggis.

A funny thing to me was that as I had anticipated and briefed to the Commanding General, US Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MarForPac) there was going to be a need for an officer development program once the Mongolia enlisted personnel stepped up their game. I was separating (retiring) from the Marine Corps in Hawaii and happened to read a message that MarForPac was looking for a Major/Lieutenant Colonel to deploy to Mongolia to initiate an officers development program. Now almost seven years later they are looking for someone to do the job that I had predicted would be necessary if my program was successful. I contacted the officer in charge of the program to introduce myself and volunteer for the gig. Of course he recognized my name because it was all over the original briefs, decision papers, messages, etc. in his files on this program. I was turned down for the job because of “all the paperwork” required to extend me on active duty or recall to duty. I always thought that that was BS and that the program manager just did not want to try to supervise me, that guy who had conceived his pet program.

OK – back to western Mongolia. So I’m the only American on this trip to the town of Khovd as part of my study of how and where to initiate the MELDEP program. A general officer in the Mongolian Armed Forces had travelled with me from the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and invited me to go fishing the next day. The next morning through a bit of a vodka haze we pile into a Russian made jeep and head off into the steppe. Driver and the general in front, and I’m wedged between two large dudes sitting in the back and bouncing my head off the jeep’s ceiling every few feet because apparently Russians never discovered shock absorbers.

We’re driving along dirt trails (there are few roads in Mongolia outside of the cities) for several hours and suddenly I’m startled by the driver’s shouts and animated hand gestures. I only understand a couple of words of Mongolian (we communicated in English/Russian Tarzan speak) so have no idea what he’s shouting about, just as suddenly he brakes hard, quickly and violently opens his door, and springs out of the jeep as if he had been lit on fire. Now he dashes to the back of the jeep, opens the rear hatch right behind me, and grabs an AK.

I did not know that they were carrying any weapons on this fishing tip and so when he jammed a magazine into the rifle and chambered a round, for a split second I wondered why they had driven so far out into the steppe just to off me. I was about to soil my trousers when I heard the first rip from the AK. A second burst from the AK and I saw the rounds impacting about 100 meters in front of the jeep. The third burst and I saw that the rounds were impacting all around a small furry object that was moving very quickly across the fruited plain. A fourth burst and the fleeing animal went tumbling and stopped. On a fishing trip we had just killed a fox for its fur which I did see drying the next morning outside the barracks where I was staying. First time for everything I guess.

Later that day I was less shocked and surprised when we pulled over, this time more deliberately and the general was handed a shotgun. He shot and missed a duck swimming on a small pond but did not miss the doves that the driver cleaned and made into a delicious soup as soon as we stopped and started fishing. Later we ate freshly caught fried fish and washed it down with local beer and Mongolian (not Russian) vodka. Nothing tastes better than fish fried on the bank of a river. Think I’ll go back someday to hunt wolf.

The Mongolians are awesome. They should be our Gurkhas.

Semper Fi

14 thoughts on “Fishing in Mongolia Redux

        1. Hey Simon 🙂 I can see that you liked my last comment, but I am seeing a message above it that says “Your comment is awaiting moderation?”

          Liked by 1 person

        2. No rush at all, I am about to go to bed, I just wanted to tell you before I forgot about it-I know you are watching the game, I am not worried and in no hurry 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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