The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and Royal Thai Navy began the 24th iteration of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Pattaya, Thailand, June 14.
The multi-nation exercise series is organized in bilateral phases with regional nations and is designed to enhance capabilities in a broad spectrum of naval operations. The exercise series features cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of partner nations to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free, open, and stable Indo-Pacific maritime security environment.
“Twenty-four years of engagement through CARAT speaks volumes about the maritime partnership between the U.S. and Thailand,” said Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. “We appreciate the commitment of our partners from the Royal Thai Navy for bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge and perspectives each year to this exercise that allows both navies to strengthen bonds while learning valuable skills from each other.”
The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89), expeditionary fast transport USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) and a maritime surveillance aircraft P-8 Poseidon will participate in cooperative evolutions at sea alongside the Royal Thai Navy while Marine forces will engage in jungle training and live fire evolutions. Construction projects will occur at a local school conducted by the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 and table top exercises and symposiums involving medical personnel, mine countermeasures experts, diving and salvage crews, and explosive ordnance disposal technicians will enhance the complexity and diversity of the training.
“We are pleased to operate at sea alongside our friends and partners from the U.S. Navy,” said Capt Thumrong Supunpong, commander, Royal Thai Navy exercise task unit. “This CARAT exercise provides valuable opportunities for our navies to learn from each other and increase our ability to work cooperatively together in a variety of realistic scenarios. We are grateful to the U.S. Navy for their enduring partnership with the Royal Thai Navy.”
CARAT builds upon other engagements and exercises with Thailand to include Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) involving more than a dozen partner nations, and Cobra Gold, Indo-Pacific’s largest multinational exercise. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination, build mutual warfighting capability and support long-term regional cooperation.
“The CARAT exercise series provides a unique and vital opportunity for our navies to understand the challenges inherent in a complex maritime environment, and on how to work through them in a cooperative manner,” said Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7. “Having been part of last year’s CARAT exercise, this year marks a significant growth in our collective ability to work together in even more sophisticated scenarios, and I look forward to continuing this effective engagement next year and beyond.”
Additional phases of CARAT will occur in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Bangladesh in 2018 along with similar maritime training engagements and activities with Vietnam and the Philippines.
Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific/Task Force 73 is the executive agent for more than 20 bilateral and multilateral security cooperation exercises with 14 nations in South and Southeast Asia. The command and staff also oversees more than 50 ships and operational naval logistics forces in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, forward deployed littoral combat ships, and a Navy region ashore.