LAHAD DATU, Sept 2 — Malaysia and the United States (US) wrapped up eight days of joint military amphibious exercise (MALUS AMPHEX 2014) in Kampung Tanduo, about 150km from here today, renewing their commitment to ensure long-term peace, stability and security in Malaysia, particularly eastern Sabah.
About 500 personnel from the Malaysian Armed Forces, as well as 285 US Marines and sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in the joint military excercise in Tanduo and its surrounding areas.
Tanduo was the landing site of the terrorist intruders from Sulu early last year.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the amphibious exercise, Malaysia’s Chief of Army Jen Datuk Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor said MALUS AMPHEX 2014, the first Malaysia-US joint exercise held in Sabah, was among others, designed to foster and strengthen the existing relationship between the people of the two nations.
“US military presence in these waters (off eastern Sabah) coincides well with our policy of engaging with a strong and friendly policing force here.
“With the recent spates of cross-border incidents that have plaqued the waters, joint Malaysia-United States military cooperation bodes well with our commitment to eradicate the menace that has been plaquing this part of our country for many decades,” he said.
Raja Mohamed Affandi represented Chief of Defence Forces Gen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin at the function.
Also present was US Marine Corps Forces Pacific Commander Lt Gen John Toolan Jr and Joint Force Commander, Malaysian Armed Forces Lt Gen Datuk Seri Affendi Buang.
Raja Mohamed Affandi said the excercise focused on amphibious landing, engineering civil action programme and medical civic action programme.
He said the conduct of the exercise had greatly benefited the Malaysian Armed Forces in dealing with cross-border threats.
“US presence here helps contribute to the well-being and security of this part of Malaysia. Though this is not a big scale exercise, it is a good platform for us to work on it and gradually increasing the scale of such exercise in the future.
“We look forward to engaging in similar ventures in the future, perhaps enhancing the level of such exercise so that it can have a positive impact on the defence of the state of Sabah,” he said.
Later, Raja Mohamed Affandi told reporters that Malaysia was now in a better position to face any eventuality, including cross-border threats or intrusion following the successful completion of MALUS AMPHEX 2014.
“Our forces have gained a lot from this exercise with the United States, especially in terms of knowledge and experience,” he said, harbouring hope that Malaysia and the US would continue conducting such exercise in the future for a common good.
Meanwhile, Toolan said the US was committed to helping Malaysia combat cross-border threats.
“We are aware of the security threats in this part of Malaysia (eastern Sabah), and our presence is a strong signal that we are here to help out Malaysia,” he said, adding that Malaysian army personnel had shown tremendous capabilities during the joint excercise.
Toolan said the joint exercise would surely further strengthen military ties and cooperation between the two nations. — BERNAMA