PHOTOS: Hagel visits Mongolia to sign agreement, receives horse

BY Justin Scuiletti  April 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM EDT
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel signed a joint vision statement with Mongolian Defense Minister Dashdemberal Bat-Erdene Thursday at Mongolia’s Ministry of Defense in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The agreement calls for more U.S. military exercises with Mongolia as the country seeks “to modernize its military in a transparent fashion.”

“A strong US-Mongolia defense relationship is important as part of the American re-balance to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Hagel at a joint press conference.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

As part of tradition, Secretary Hagel was also presented with a horse by the Defense Minister. With the tradition stipulating the horse be named after something of importance to its recipient, Hagel chose the name Shamrock, after the mascot of his high school, St. Bonaventure, in Columbus, Neb. “It was one of the most important times of my life,” he said.

Hagel’s visit to Mongolia wraps up a 10-day trip to Asian countries. The horse, however, will be staying in Mongolia to serve in the country’s honor guard battalion.