A U.S. Navy Seabee conducts training with members of the Federal Defense Force Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) Navy during a previous CARAT exercise in Timor-Leste. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Jennie Stone)

DILI, Timor-Leste - The U.S. Navy and Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) will conduct the third Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in Dili and in the vicinity of Port Hera Naval Base, July 27-28.

CARAT Timor-Leste is part of an annual bilateral exercise series between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. As a longstanding exercise series in Southeast Asia, CARAT enables regional navies to work together through cooperative training events, exchanges, and symposia.

“CARAT Timor-Leste provides an outstanding venue to broaden our partnership with the Timor-Leste Defense Force based on shared security interests,” said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, Commander, Task Force 73. “Through our bilateral training and exchanges, our Sailors are working side-by-side with their Timor-Leste counterparts, creating meaningful professional relationships and enhancing cooperation between our navies.”

During this year’s CARAT exercise, U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE and security personnel assigned to Navy Coastal Riverine Group ONE will conduct civil-engineer exchanges and security training with Timor-Leste Defense Forces. CARAT Timor-Leste also includes a community service and outreach project providing an opportunity for U.S. and Timor-Leste Defense Forces to interact with the local community. About 100 U.S. Sailors and 300 Timor-Leste Defense Force members will participate in this year’s exercise.

CARAT is one aspect of the growing U.S. and Timor-Leste partnership, which includes annual port calls by U.S. Navy ships, visits by senior U.S. Navy and Marine Corps leaders, and ongoing civic action projects by U.S. Navy Seabees deployed to Timor-Leste over the past decade.

“Both navies benefit from this training,” said Lt. Luis Ortega, Timor-Leste desk officer and exercise coordinator for CTF 73. “Together we learn from each other and exchange cultural knowledge and military skillsets, which increases capacity of our forces and allows us to work more efficiently together.”

Following CARAT Timor-Leste, additional bilateral phases of CARAT will occur from August through November 2015 with Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. The exercises continue to provide a regional venue to develop strong maritime partnerships that contribute to the greater peace and stability of the region.

As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.