About 260 Marines flew to Panama this morning and more are scheduled to leave Wednesday night for jungle training in the troubled country, officials said.
The Marines flew out on a chartered Air America airliner at about 10 p.m. Tuesday from Miramar Naval Air Station, said Gunnery Sgt. Stan Pederson, a spokesman at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base about 60 miles north of San Diego.He said 240 other members of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, will leave about 7 p.m. from Miramar.
The departures are unrelated to the U.S. military buildup prompted by Panama's political turmoil, Pederson said.
The Marines will join about 300 other members of their battalions who left Friday for a three-week course at the Army's jungle operations training center at Fort Sherman, about 50 miles from Panama City, he said.
On Monday, a 25-year-old Marine at a U.S. Air Force base in Panama City was mistakenly shot to death by fellow Marine guards while investigating a suspected break-in at the base.