US Marine Corps, February 28, 2015 - SEPANGGAR, SABAH, Malaysia by Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo – Members of the Malaysian armed forces, alongside Malaysian and U.S. government officials, observed a theater security cooperation event with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit here Feb. 27.
The amphibious air-ground demonstration provided an opportunity for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and MAF to build relationships and pave the way for future exercises in Malaysia.
“I think with more and more cooperation and military dialogue, it will be good because it is something very positive,” said Datuk Teo Chee Kang, Minister of Special Tasks in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). “It will make for a better regional security. It is our pleasure and our honor and we appreciate it.”
The event included a live-fire platoon vertical assault at Kota Belund Range that highlighted the 31st MEU’s ground combat element. Marines from Company G, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st MEU, performed fire-and-maneuver tactics with small arms and medium machine guns and had support from 60 mm mortars.
The demonstration also highlighted the 31st MEU’s aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced). An MV-22B Osprey dropped off Marines in their designated landing zone as two UH-1Y “Huey” helicopters demonstrated live fire and close air support using GAU-17/A Gatling gun, GAU-21 .50-caliber machine gun and 70 mm rocket fire.
“This has been the highlight of our patrol,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Romin Dasmalchi, 31st MEU commanding officer. “We look forward to any opportunity to do a bilateral engagement and to train with our partners in the region. This is really an honor for us to be able to do this, and I look forward to the next opportunity.”
After the live fire event, the group of Malaysian military and civilian officials loaded onto an MV-22B Osprey and flew to the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) operating at sea for a quick tour of the ship.
“We are very grateful to have partners in the region who allow us to visit beautiful places like Sabah and we are grateful for our military partners visiting us,” said Capt. Heidi Agle, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11, as she addressed the crowd of Malaysian visitors aboard the ship.
Since 1951, the United States and Malaysia have shared diplomatic relations. This exercise demonstrated the continued commitment to the Marine Forces Pacific-MAF 2015 security cooperation program and the increased engagements between III Marine Expeditionary Force and the MAF.
The Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU/Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group are currently conducting the annual Spring Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region.