After Indonesia, CARAT kicks off in Malaysia

US marines stand in formation with marines from RMN for a photo during the opening ceremony of CARAT 2018. Photo: US Department of Defense

The US and Royal Malaysian navies commenced the 24th iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) on Kota Belud Marine Base in Malaysia on August 10.

CARAT exercises focus on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and are designed to strengthen the close partnership between both navies while cooperatively ensuring maritime security, stability and prosperity.

“In nearly a quarter of a century of CARAT exercises, we have continued to ensure forward presence, deterrence and sea control each time when US and Royal Malaysian ships get underway together and conduct cooperative exercises,” Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73, commented.

The expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will conduct nearly a dozen at-sea exercises with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), including a gunnery exercise to maintain sailors’ readiness with onboard weapon systems, visit, board, search, and seizure drills to increase and maintain proficiency in boarding vessels that may harbor illegal weapons and drugs, and division tactics to enhance cooperative fleet maneuvers, according to the US defense department.

The exercise builds upon other engagements with Malaysia, including Pacific Partnership and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination and support long-term regional cooperation.

“Annually for the past 24 years, our armed forces have engaged and exercised with each other in increasingly complex and sophisticated scenarios. Throughout this time we have learned much about each other — how we communicate and operate — and it is vital to effectively working together to ensure security, stability and prosperity in the region,” Navy Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7, said.

“The aim of this exercise is to enhance interoperability as well as individual capacity to conduct amphibious operations at a tactical level. It is also to provide good opportunities for all of us to reshape ideas and experiences so that we can plan and conduct operations in the region whenever something arises,” Malaysia army Maj. Gen. Dato Zulkapri bin Rahamat, the commander of Task Force 450, explained.

Malaysia has been part of the CARAT exercise series since it began in 1995. The exercise remains a model for cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables both navies to refine operations and tactics in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges.

Also on August 10, CARAT began in Indonesia with the arrival of the dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) with elements from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They will engage with Indonesian forces in at-sea and ashore exercises.

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