BRUNEI DARUSSALAM (NNS) -- A ceremony in Brunei Darussalam June 24 marked the formal opening of the ninth edition of an annual military training exercise between personnel of the Royal Brunei armed forces and U.S. Sailors and Marines.
The weeklong Brunei phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), which actually began June 23 with the arrival of a three-ship U.S. Navy task group with an embarked U.S. Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), will include training in a variety of areas, such as at-sea maneuvering and communications, command and control, diving and salvage, force protection, maritime patrol and jungle operations.
U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Gene B. Christy joined military personnel of all ranks in the crowd during the ceremony, which took place at the Royal Brunei Land Force Berakas Garrison. The venue was symbolic of the growth of CARAT - a predominantly sea service-oriented exercise - in Brunei.
Acting commander of the Royal Brunei Navy, Lt. Col. Joharie Bin HJ Matussin, the ceremony's guest speaker, noted the exercise's expansion in his remarks, pointing out that CARAT evolved from an earlier navy-to-navy version, Kingfisher.
"It was a straightforward exercise which was strictly confined to the two naval forces," he said. "Over the years, the scale of the exercise has evolved and now, under the CARAT program, involves assets from the other elements of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces."
Units of the Royal Brunei Land Force and Air Force, along with three navy ships, are joining guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49), dock-landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), rescue-and-salvage ship USS Safeguard (ARS 50) and 400-strong MAGTF, Landing Force CARAT, embarked in Harpers Ferry. Other U.S. assets involved include a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and crew from Patrol Squadron 4, an SH-60B "Seahawk" helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 51, along with personnel from the Joint Interagency Task Force, Sailors from the U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Area and agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Singapore.
Joharie also pointed out the participation of law enforcement agencies, such as the Royal Brunei Marine Police and the Royal Brunei Anti-Narcotic Bureau, and noted the critical nature of exposure to current practices given to them by the U.S. Coast Guard, NCIS and others. "On our own, we would not be able to do this," Joharie said.
"I would like to thank the United States Navy for giving our Royal Brunei armed forces the valuable opportunity to exercise our force at a joint level with a great degree of realism," Joharie added.
A primary goal of CARAT is to enhance the ability of Royal Brunei and U.S. forces to operate together, but the benefits of training side-by-side can pay additional dividends, as well.
"I am sure we will learn a lot from the United States Navy," Joharie said. "Nevertheless, I hope that there would be something that the United States Navy could learn from us from this exercise. I hope the exercise would provide the opportunity for you and your men to have a better understanding of our people and their culture."
The U.S. Navy has had a relationship with the people of Brunei for nearly 160 years, since USS Constitution sailed into Brunei Bay in 1845. Five years later, exactly 153 years prior to the beginning of this year's CARAT phase here, Brunei and the United States signed a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Commerce which laid the foundations for the close bi-lateral relations the two countries enjoy today.
CARAT, a regularly scheduled series of bilateral military training exercises with several Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries, is designed to enhance interoperability of the U.S. sea services and those of friends and allies throughout the region in a variety of mission areas of mutual benefit.
Approximately 1,200 U.S. personnel are participating in the Brunei phase.
For more CARAT news, visit www.clwp.navy.mil/carat2003.
For related news, visit the Logistics Group Western Pacific Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/clwp.