LOPE NATIONAL PARK, Gabon (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus met with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Marines assigned to Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SP MAGTF) Africa while in Gabon June 16.
The Marines were in Gabon conducting theater security training with Gabonese anti-poaching units.
"The work you are doing here will have an impact long after you leave," Mabus told the Marines during an all-hands call. "Your efforts are directly enhancing security here and will be felt throughout the region."
Mabus also thanked the Marines for the work they were doing while forward-deployed, explaining the long-term benefits of their efforts.
"Thank you for what you do," he said. "The training you are providing to combat poaching will be used for years to come to protect Gabon from all manner of transnational crime and extremism."
He also spoke about the impact the Marines' presence in Gabon had on the United States' relationship with the Gabonese.
"What you are doing here is of extreme importance to our nation's interests, to Gabon, and to the critical partnership we have built here," said Mabus.
The Marines who met with the Mabus appreciated the visit from the leader of the Department of the Navy.
"It is an amazing honor for someone such as the Secretary to take the time to come out and see what we are doing out here," said Lance Cpl. Mickey Anderson.
While in Gabon, Mabus also spoke with Marines at the U.S. embassy and met with senior Gabonese government and military officials.
Mabus' stop in Gabon is part of a multi-nation visit to the U.S. European and Africa Command areas of responsibility focused on reinforcing existing partnerships and visiting Sailors and Marines providing forward presence.
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