February 26, 2011
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) of the United States arrived in Cambodia's Sihanoukville Port on Saturday morning to participate in the Cambodian Maritime Exercise, starting from Feb. 27 to March 2, according to the media release from the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh.
The 31st MEU includes more than 2,200 marines and sailors, and is comprised of a command element, a reinforced infantry battalion, a composite helicopter squadron and a combat logistics battalion.
The warship's participation in the exercise is part of the U.S. Pacific Command's Theater Security Cooperation Program.
"The bilateral exercise will provide unique and dynamic opportunities for cooperation between the U.S. and Cambodian military, while promoting relationship-building between militaries and local communities,"the press release said on Saturday.
It also ensured that the region is adequately prepared for regional humanitarian disasters, such as the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, by allowing partner nations to work together and build relationships before a critical need develops, it added.
"Our military forces engage in cooperative programs throughout the year aimed at developing relationships to allow for combined efforts,"Col. Andrew MacMannis, commanding officer, 31st MEU, said in the statement.
Major events planned for the exercise include a port visit with liberty, a jungle exchange, a subject matter expert exchange at the Peace Keeping Training facility, English engagement exchanges, community relations projects, and a Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Release planning exercise.
The exercise is also scheduled to include C-130 and helicopter support operations to include supporting Joint Personnel Recovery efforts in the area.
During the exercise, the 31st MEU will also participate in a combined medical and dental civic action project, expected to treat approximately 3,800 patients.
According to exercise officials, this bilateral exchange will build friendships and increase mutual understanding.
"The U.S. government is dedicated to its enduring relationship with Cambodians," said Mark Wenig, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia.
The 31st MEU arrived in Cambodia after its participation in exercise Cobra Gold 2011 in Thailand on Feb. 7-18.