Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Timor-Leste Military Training Exercise Winding Down

U.S. Sailors and Marines have spent the past week off the coast and on shore in the Southeast Asia nation of Timor-Leste conducting training and other activities with the Timor-Leste Defense Force and Australian armed forces.

Marine Exercise, or MAREX, began Oct. 14 with the arrival of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on board USS Bonhomme Richard. Since then, a variety of training activities have taken place, focused on areas such as basic infantry skills.

The exercise has also included a heavy emphasis on medical and engineering projects.

U.S. Navy medical professionals from 11th MEU have been assisting local healthcare workers in providing limited medical and dental care in the Maubara, Occussi and Laga areas. Marines also partnered with local government and education officials to repair a school in Maubara.

In the midst of the training, which included a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) drill with American citizens in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy, Sailors from Bonhomme Richard conducted several community service projects in Dili, donated medical and hygiene supplies, and participated in sporting events with their Timorese hosts.

On Oct. 17, President Jose Ramos-Jorta visited Bonhomme Richard and thanked Sailors and Marines for their efforts during the exercise.

MAREX follows closely on the heels of the first formal military-to-military talks between the U.S. and Timor-Leste, during which both sides agreed to expand military-to-military activities.

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