KUANTAN, Malaysia  — During his time in Malaysia the Honorable Ray Mabus, 75th Secretary of the Navy, paid a visit to Marines and sailors participating in exercise Kilat Eagle here Dec. 16.

Mabus, accompanied by embassy personnel and high ranking Malaysian officers, drove from Kuantan Air Base where he arrived by plane to the MEU’s forward operating base in the Malaysian jungle. Once at the base, he was shown the expeditionary solar-powered charging stations, interacted with Marine snipers and Malaysian mortarmen and saw an assault demonstration put on by Marines of Company I and Malaysian 10th Parachute Brigade.

Marines, sailors and Malaysian soldiers gathered in the rain to hear Mabus speak.“I know you Marines are only happy when you are in the field, dirty and wet,” Mabus said. “So you all have got to be having a great time out here.”

The Secretary spoke about the future of the Navy and Marine Corps, noting the importance of the Corps’ expeditionary heritage, and the Marines ability to be forward deployed and conducting these engagement opportunities. He answered questions from the Marines about what the future holds for the Marine Corps and how he views future threats. He also took a moment to record a holiday greeting to all service members and their families with the Marines and sailors at the base.

“The Navy and Marine Corps are the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known, but being America’s away team – doing our jobs, forward deployed, globally engaged in the defense of our country means that many of you are far from home, and far from loved ones. It’s never easy, and it’s particularly hard during the holiday season. Whether you are afloat or ashore, whether you are far from home or at home, I want to wish you a happy holiday from a very very grateful nation.”

After saying farewell and wishing the Marines a safe deployment, the Secretary and entourage returned to Kuantan Air Base to catch their flight.

“It was a pleasure to showcase the great things the Marines and sailors of the Marine Expeditionary Unit are doing,” said Col. Michael Hudson, the 11th MEU’s commanding officer who accompanied the Secretary and during the tour. “Having the SECNAV interacting with the Marines and sailors from the MEU, forward deployed in Malaysia, was a tremendous opportunity for these amazing Americans to hear how important their commitment is.”

Kilat Eagle, a bilateral cooperative exercise currently underway between Marines and sailors of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Malaysian Army personnel, gives the forces the opportunity to exchange skills, and a chance to experience training in a jungle environment in the Pacific.

The MEU’s major subordinate elements participating in the training are Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 (Reinforced) and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.