Friday, March 03, 2006
US Marines general visits Sulu
Sun Star

UNITED States Marines Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson, Combined Task Force commander for Balikatan 2006 and concurrent commander of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marines Division, recently visited areas in Jolo and Panamao where there are ongoing Medical and Engineering Civic Action Programs.

Robeson, who was in Zamboanga City and Sulu for the first time, visited his troops and found them to be "extraordinarily energized, motivated, well-taken care of by the Sulu people, and thoroughly enjoying the partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines."

Upon arrival in Jolo, Robeson paid calls on Task Force Comet Commander Alexander Aleo and 104th Brigade Commander Gen. Nehemias Pajarito.

He was warmly received by 104th Brigade deputy commander Col. Rey Saleana and Marine Battalion commander Col. Juancho Sabban.

With the American general were Joint Force Philippines commander Col. James Linder, JSOTF-P Forward commander Lt. Col. James McAllister, and Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Mark Zimmer.

"It is tremendous privilege. I was received by every Filipino in the true spirit of Balikatan -- shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-to-arm. We have long considered our Filipino brothers as our key allies in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and we believe our future is with the Philippine Armed Forces and the Filipino nation, shoulder to shoulder and arm to arm, working together every year," Robeson said in an interview.

"Jolo is important, because the Philippines government wants us to partner in economic growth. Manila has a desire to reach out to this region and establish more opportunities for this area for the good people in this archipelago," the US Marines commander said.

Robeson mingled with the Filipinos and American armed forces who were working together for Balikatan 2006 in Jolo, during the Medical and Dental Civic Action Project in Mindanao State University in Jolo, which ended last Febrary 27, and at the Engineering Civic Action Project in Tiptipon Elementary School in Panamao, Sulu.

He also met local health and education officials. He is expected to go back to Sulu anytime this week for an event with the Philippine Marines, among others.