The San Diego-based Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in Dili, Timor-Leste, Wednesday for the start of an exercise with the tiny nation's defense forces, the Navy reported.
Sailors and Marines will take part in military police training, small boat exercises, jungle warfare training and aviation-related scenarios during the visit that the Navy has dubbed “Exercise Crocodilo.”
They will also offer medical and dental assistance and construction help to the local populace in the country that gained its independence from Indonesia a decade ago following years of violence that killed tens of thousands.
The country is home to an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population, while Indonesia is predominantly Muslim.
“This exercise presents a valuable opportunity to further strengthen the already strong relationship between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and the Timor-Leste Defense Force,” said Capt. Mark Sakaguchi, commander of Amphibious Squadron Three. “Visits like these are vital toward developing and strengthening relationships with regional partners.”
The amphibious ready group is led by the USS Peleliu. The amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore are also on hand.
The three vessels, with the Marines aboard, left their San Diego home port Sept. 17.
Timor-Leste is a former Portuguese colony on the eastern half of the island of Timor in the Lesser Sunda Islands, northwest of Australia.
Engineman 1st Class Colin Cumberbatch said it's his second visit to Timor-Leste.
“I look forward to learning more about the history and culture of this nation,” Cumberbatch said. “Timor-Leste has seen so many changes in such a short time which personally makes it more appealing.”
– City News Service