Friday, August 10, 2018

U.S., Malaysia Commence 24th Cooperation Afloat Exercise

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher A. Veloicaza, Logistics Group Western Pacific

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia -- The U.S. and Royal Malaysian navies commenced the 24th iteration of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise here today.

CARAT exercises focus on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and are designed to strengthen the close partnership between both navies while cooperatively ensuring maritime security, stability and prosperity.

“In nearly a quarter of a century of CARAT exercises, we have continued to ensure forward presence, deterrence and sea control each time when U.S. and Royal Malaysian ships get underway together and conduct cooperative exercises,” said Navy Rear Adm. Joey Tynch, commander of Task Force 73.

The expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will conduct nearly a dozen at-sea exercises with the Malaysian navy, including a gunnery exercise to maintain sailors’ readiness with onboard weapon systems, visit, board, search, and seizure drills to increase and maintain proficiency in boarding vessels that may harbor illegal weapons and drugs, and division tactics to enhance cooperative fleet maneuvers.

‘Great Opportunity’

“This is a great opportunity for all of us working side by side, to improve and enhance all of our operational capabilities,” said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general of 3rd Marine Infantry Division. “We look forward to continuing to advance all of our joint and integrated capabilities, both here and in the future.”

The exercise builds upon other engagements with Malaysia, including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training, which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements serve to enhance information sharing and coordination and support long-term regional cooperation.

"I have seen, firsthand, the professionalism of the Malaysian armed forces. Annually for the past 24 years our armed forces have engaged and exercised with each other in increasingly complex and sophisticated scenarios. Throughout this time we have learned much about each other -- how we communicate and operate -- and it is vital to effectively working together to ensure security, stability and prosperity in the region,” said Navy Capt. Lex Walker, commodore of Destroyer Squadron 7.

Enhancing Interoperability

“The aim of this exercise is to enhance interoperability as well as individual capacity to conduct amphibious operations at a tactical level,” said Malaysia army Maj. Gen. Dato Zulkapri bin Rahamat, the commander of Task Force 450. “It is also to provide good opportunities for all of us to reshape ideas and experiences so that we can plan and conduct operations in the region whenever something arises.”

He added, “We are looking forward to an active discussion and a productive outcome in the planning and conduct of amphibious assault and ship-to-ship training as well as other exposures through subject matter expert exchanges.”

Malaysia has been part of the CARAT exercise series since it began in 1995. The exercise remains a model for cooperation that has evolved in complexity and enables both navies to refine operations and tactics in response to traditional and nontraditional maritime security challenges.

Single Marines Enjoy Nature, Camaraderie at Zion National Park

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kerstin Roberts, Marine Corps Installations West -- Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

SPRINGDALE, Utah -- Surrounded by mountains, Zion National Park here presents a profound example of Mother Nature’s breathtaking beauty.

And, a group of Marines that traveled to the park from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, as part of the Single Marine Program appreciated the chance to get away from it all.

The program’s goal is to enhance the quality of life for single Marines by offering a variety of different extracurricular activities to keep them physically, mentally and socially active.

“For $40, we received transportation, tents, beds, food, water and Gatorade,” explained Marine Corps Sgt. Jennifer Mendez, intelligence specialist, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force-Information Group. “It was also nice that we could choose how to spend our time. We were not restricted to a schedule of events at specific times of the day.”

Many Activities

The trip to Zion National Park is one of many trips hosted by the program. During their trip to the park, Marines had the opportunity to hike trails, relax around a bonfire, throw a flying disc or simply mingle with other single Marines.

“Everyone who chose to take this opportunity had at least two things in common -- being interested in the outdoors and being in the military,” Mendez said. “Whether or not you were a lance corporal, a sergeant, in the Navy or the Marine Corps -- it didn’t matter. We all could relate on at least a small aspect of both of them.”

While attending trips, service members are able to get outside, challenge their physical fitness in unique ways, and bond with other service members who are interested in similar activities.

The program offers a wide variety of excursions, including unique volunteer opportunities, tickets to various sporting events, as well as weekend getaways to places in, around and outside of California.

“SMP is looking to get Marines out of the barracks, out from in front of the TV, and give them opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have,” said Jessica Swinson, 22 and 24 Area SMP Recreational Centers manager.

Swinson added, “The goal for hiking at Zion National Park was to give Marines the opportunity to hang out with individuals that had common interests and to build friendships.”

Mattis Plans Trip to South America to Meet With Senior Defense Officials

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis embarks Aug. 12 on his first trip to South America while leading the Defense Department, Pentagon officials announced today.

The White House declared 2018 the “Year of the Americas,” and the secretary's trip underscores the department's strong defense ties with Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, officials said, adding that these relationships are critical to a collaborative, prosperous and secure Western Hemisphere.

Mattis will begin his trip in Brazil, where he will meet with senior officials and defense leaders. He will also speak at the Escola Superior de Guerra, the country's war college, and visit the national monument to Brazilian service members killed in World War II.

The secretary will then visit Argentina, where he will meet with senior defense officials to discuss defense issues of mutual interest.

His third stop is Chile to exchange strategic perspectives with senior officials.

Mattis concludes his trip in Colombia, where he will meet members of the newly elected administration.