MAURA, Brunei (NNS) -- The 16th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series began in Brunei, May 3, with a opening ceremony at the Royal Brunei Navy's Fleet Headquarters.
Col. Abdul Halim, Commander of the Royal Brunei Navy, and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Nora Tyson, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific officiated the ceremony.
CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises held annually in the Southeast Asia region. Longstanding participating nations include Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. In Indonesia, CARAT is known as Naval Engagement Activity. New countries joining CARAT in 2010 include Cambodia and Bangladesh.
"CARAT is a valuable exercise, as fosters relationships between our officers and Sailors, and those of our partner navies," said Rear Adm. Nora Tyson, commander of Combined Task Force 73 and Logistics Group, Western Pacific. "It is said you can't surge trust; that only comes through a familiarity you get working, training and sometimes living side-by-side, and CARAT delivers that."
In his opening remarks, Halim expressed his views that CARAT builds a stronger relationship between Bruneian and U.S. forces.
"As we all know, CARAT has always played an important role here in this region, not only in information sharing, techniques and tactics procedures, but also to serve as a platform in strengthening the ties of our relationship," he said.
"It is my greatest hope that CARAT this year will be a fruitful one and along with it comes new experiences for the personnel of both armed forces," continued Halim.
For the first time ever, Riverine Warfare subject matter experts will join CARAT, beginning in Brunei. Other engagement events for CARAT Brunei include boat maintenance; flight deck familiarization and landing procedures; a series of military symposiums; visit, board, search and seizure exercises; surface gunnery and maneuvering events, an amphibious landing exercise, joint U.S. and Royal Brunei Navy band performances, as well as several community service projects.
"CARAT is an important exercise that helps to build positive relationships and interoperability with our partners in this part of the world," said Capt. Richard L. Clemmons, commodore of Combined Task Group 73.1. "This training provides an invaluable opportunity to work together to address shared security concerns and increase the operational readiness of participating forces."
Approximately 1,600 U.S. personnel will take part in CARAT 2010, while the number of participants in CARAT partner countries varies. U.S. ships participating in CARAT Brunei include the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), guided-missile frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mellon (WHEC 717).
For more information on the exercise, visit the CARAT Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Exercise.CARAT
For more news from Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training see www.navy.mil/local/clwp.