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.
“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.
“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.