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Pacific Fleet Commander Embraces Cambodia Partnership

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071226-07

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael Perez, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Robert F. Willard acknowledged the importance of a strong relationship with Cambodia in his latest "Rat-Pac Report" podcast posted Dec. 26.

Willard discussed the impact of the recent visits to Cambodia by USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Gary (FFG 51), the U.S. Navy's first port visits there in 30 years. In November, Willard traveled to Cambodia to see first-hand Essex's friendship-building community relations events, medical and dental projects, and professional exchanges.

"This was my first opportunity to visit Cambodia, and I had an opportunity to meet with their leadership and talk to them a little bit about how our Navy might help theirs and the relationship between their country and the United States," said Willard.

During Willard's visit, he highlighted the importance of Essex's presence during its six-day port visit to the Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham areas.

"To give you an idea of the impact Essex was having, she was front page news every day that we were there, and in a maritime security conference setting, the prime minister mentioned Essex and the contributions that she was making," said Willard.

U.S. Navy doctors, dentists and corpsman from Essex and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted medical and dental civic action projects to help the people of Kampong Cham and the remote village of Kulen, Nov. 28-30.

"I like helping people and this event gave me the opportunity to help a lot of people who cannot help themselves," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Judd Kale. "The people were really appreciative of our efforts and they were eager to interact with us."

Sailors and Marines were also invited to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh to participate in the 2nd Annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony, which was followed by a Christmas party held to distribute gifts to local Cambodian children from Friends and Little Folks orphanages.

In his podcast Willard pledged to strengthen the Navy's partnership with Cambodia and the collective security of the region.

"They've got senior military leadership and senior political leadership that are trying very hard to be successful and to reform their country," said Willard. "They'd like our help and we are going to give it to them."

A new Rat-Pac Report podcast is uploaded every Wednesday to www.cpf.navy.mil. Past episodes and transcripts are available for download.

For related news, visit the Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.navy.mil/local/cpf/.

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