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U.S., Brunei navies kick off annual CARAT exercise

22 October 2019

From Lt. Lauren Chatmas, Destroyer Squadron 7

The 25th anniversary of CARAT Brunei symbolizes the longstanding U.S.-Brunei maritime partnership and highlights U.S. commitment to the region.

MUARA, Brunei - The U.S. and Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) commenced the 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) maritime exercise at Muara Naval Base, Oct. 22.

The 25th anniversary of Exercise CARAT Brunei symbolizes the longstanding U.S.-Brunei maritime partnership and highlights the United States’ commitment to the region and to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, who oversees security cooperation for the U.S. Navy in Southeast Asia, said that CARAT Brunei was an opportunity for friends and partners to work together and address shared maritime security priorities.

”This is what partnership looks like,” said Tynch. “There’s no better demonstration of our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific than working together at sea.”

The sea phase will take place in the South China Sea with ships and aircraft from both partner militaries.

Evolutions at sea will include division tactics (DIVTACS) designed to enhance communication as ships sail together in complex maneuvers, a photo exercise (PHOTOEX), a tracking exercise (TRACKEX) aimed at increasing both navies’ ability to track and pursue targets through the coordinated deployment of surface ships and maritime patrol aircrafts, visit board search and seizure (VBSS) drills, deck landing qualifications and medical evacuation simulations (DLQ/MEDECAV), gunnery exercises (GUNEX) and bilateral underway replenishment scenarios (RASAP).

Aviation events during CARAT Brunei, focusing on maritime domain awareness (MDA), search and rescue, and interoperability, will feature helicopters from the RBAF and USN, as well as the P-8A Poseidon.

“I often say we are strongest when we sail together with our friends and partners,” said Tynch, who is also a career helicopter pilot. “And when we fly together, we demonstrate a level of trust and cooperation that is unmatched.”

Ashore events will feature joint training opportunities to include visit board search and seizure (VBSS) exchanges, mobile dive and salvage training, jungle warfare training and subject matter expert knowledge exchanges in MDA, aviation, and law. Additionally, several community outreach events are scheduled throughout the exercise, including a sports day, beach cleaning project, and joint public performances by the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Band and the RBAF Band.

Marines and Sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in CARAT from Oct. 7-20. More than 500 personnel attached to 11th MEU and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) focused on small-unit training by conducting urban operations and jungle warfare training at the Penanjong Garrison. The training exercised ARG/MEU’s amphibious capability and allowed U.S. Marines and Sailors to exchange knowledge, skills and information with RBAF to enhance individual and team capacity.

CARAT Brunei reflects the growing partnership between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Brunei Navy to further expand bilateral and multilateral exercises and cooperatively ensure maritime security, stability, and prosperity.

CARAT, the U.S. Navy's oldest and longest continually running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Navy Lt. Jinwei Pho, a foreign affairs officer and exercise planner for Task Force 73, said that CARAT has evolved in complexity and is a model for partner navies cooperating to address shared maritime security challenges.

“Over a quarter of a century CARAT stays relevant,” said Pho. “The relevance and the commitment speak to the high quality of exercise events and the enduring value of maritime cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.”

CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Philippines, Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements bring like-minded naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.

As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources, and directly support the execution of CARAT and other engagements in the region.

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