MUARA, Brunei (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and Royal Brunei Armed Forces commenced the 19th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Brunei exercise with an opening ceremony at Muara Naval Base, Nov. 14.
CARAT is a series of bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor Leste. Each phase of CARAT is tailored based on mutual training goals and available assets. CARAT Brunei will focus on sharing best practices in maritime security operations, and is the final phase of 2013, which began in April.
Rear Adm. Cindy Thebaud, Commander of the U.S. Navy's Task Force 73 and 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation activities in South and Southeast Asia, noted Brunei was part of CARAT since the exercise series began in 1995.
"This longevity speaks to the enduring value of the exercise as a credible venue for our naval forces to share best practices, strengthen relationships and enhance interoperability," Thebaud said.
She pointed out that CARAT was just one element of the longstanding U.S.-Brunei defense relationship, which also includes annual ships visits, staff talks and Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) participation in the U.S. Navy's premier multilateral exercise in Southeast Asia - SEACAT - Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training.
"It's also not lost on me that Brunei has been very busy this past year as ASEAN Chair, and I am grateful that we are able to proceed with CARAT," Thebaud said.
During the exercise, personnel from both nations will conduct a series of training exchanges to share best practices on a range of topics, from search and rescue and diving operations to information sharing and military law.
Planning continues for a brief sea phase with a U.S. Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, and potentially, a search and rescue exercise with U.S. Navy and RBN ships. Several partnership-building events are also planned, including band concerts with the 7th Fleet Band Orient Express, community service projects and receptions.
For more news from Commander, Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf73/.