The 27th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Brunei maritime exercise concluded Nov. 19, following five days of virtual engagements that enhanced collaboration between Royal Brunei Armed Forces and U.S. military and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region.
U.S. assets participating in CARAT Brunei included staff from U.S. 7th Fleet, Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 73, CTF 76, DESRON 7, Special Operations Command Pacific, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and U.S. Embassy Brunei. The exercise focused on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and featured cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of Brunei and the U.S. to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific maritime security environment.
“The Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the U.S. Armed Forces showed our readiness and resilience again in 2021,” said Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific and Task Force 73. “For five days, from November 15 to November 19, we bilaterally committed to multiple dynamic events on land and in the cyber world.”
The virtual subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) events featured a variety of joint training opportunities, to include vessel interdiction and boarding training, riverine security training, replenishment-at-sea (RAS) best practices, Women, Peace & Security (WPS) symposium, maritime domain awareness (MDA), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and anti-terrorism force protection, among other topics.
The intergovernmental organization personnel from the European Union’s Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific (EU-CRIMARIO) initiative provided subject matter expertise by facilitating MDA training and giving a lecture during the WPS symposium and a lecture on maritime law enforcement.
During the closing ceremony, Sobeck emphasized the history and continued strength of U.S.-Brunei relationship and cooperation.
“The Royal Brunei Armed Forces were one of the U.S. Navy’s original CARAT partners when the exercise initiated in 1995, and that was 26 years ago,” said Sobeck. “From the 19th century with the treaty of 1850 to the 21st century, our partnership remains strong – even during a global pandemic. And that is because we continue to check in with each other annually across any operational domain to address our common interests and concerns.”
After 27 years of annual training events between the armed forces, CARAT Brunei remains a model for cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables both navies to refine operations and tactics in response to both traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges. It symbolizes the longstanding U.S.-Brunei maritime partnership. CARAT expands bilateral and multilateral exercises; ensures maritime security, stability, and prosperity; and highlights the U.S.’s commitment to the region and to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed destroyer squadron in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as ESG 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.