The 20th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series began with an opening ceremony on Sattahip Naval Base, on May 20th.
Over the next eight days, sailors and marines will participate in CARAT Thailand 2014, the first of nine bilateral exercise phases with the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Timor-Leste. Additional phases will continue through late 2014.
CARAT is designed to develop regional maritime security capability and capacity, strengthen navy-to-navy relationships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. Since the exercise series began in 1995, it has increased in complexity and brought together successive generations of naval professionals to train across the spectrum of naval operations.
“Over the past two decades, thousands of Sailors and Marines from the United States and many regional countries have trained together and joined the ranks of CARAT alumni,” said Rear Adm. Cindy Thebaud, commander, Task Force 73 and commander, Naval Forces CARAT. “This longevity demonstrates that CARAT remains a credible venue to address shared maritime security priorities and concerns in Southeast Asia.”
Training in each CARAT phase is tailored to meet shared training goals across a broad range of naval capabilities. Shore and afloat training events vary in scale, duration and complexity based on host-nation capabilities, U.S. asset availability and mutual training goals coordinated during two multiple-day planning sessions several months before exercise commencement.
CARAT 2014 will focus on combined air, surface and anti-submarine operations at sea, maritime domain awareness, amphibious landing events and humanitarian assistance, disaster response scenarios. Additional skill areas exercised during CARAT include riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, combat construction, visit, board, search, and seizure, diving and salvage, search and rescue, military medicine and military law.
The mix of U.S. assets and units varies in each phase of CARAT with several thousand personnel participating each year. Participating U.S. assets in 2014 include guided missile destroyers, frigates, amphibious ships and landing craft, combat logistics ships, diving and salvage vessels, P-3C and P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, MH-60 helicopters, riverine boats and targets.
Press Release, May 28, 2014; Image: US Navy