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Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)

Regional stability in Southeast Asia is supported by the Pacific Fleet's Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training (CARAT) program, patterned after UNITAS. CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises designed to increase U.S. Sailors' understanding of Southeast Asian cultures in the event the navies are called upon to work together in real-world operations. The tri-fold CARAT mission includes enhancing regional cooperation; building friendships between the United States and nations involved, and strengthening professional skills at every level. CARAT exercises are sponsored annually by the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and scheduled by the Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet.

The LF CARAT exercise was created in 1995 when planners consolidated several annual regional exercises into a single deployment. The conversion simplifies both planning and logistics for the exercises. The purpose of LF CARAT is to promote cooperation and interoperability between U.S. forces and those of participating nations in the areas of operational planning, command and control as well as tactics.

LF CARAT is an annual exercise consisting of a series of bilateral training evolutions between the U.S. and several Southeast Asian countries, in which our Marines and Sailors train cross-culturally with servicemembers of these nations.

LF CARAT demonstrates U.S. commitment in Southeast Asia while increasing operational readiness and the capabilities of U.S. forces. This exercise is designed to promote cooperation with other countries, and to continue to build lasting, working relationships, which will add to security and stability in the region.

CARAT 1995

CARAT exercises were first organized in 1995 in order to schedule, plan and execute previously existing regional bilateral exercises with Southeast Asian nations into a coordinated set of sequential exercises. CARAT exercises were organized by combining the planning and execution of 18 regional bilateral exercises into a single, coordinated effort. Each phase of the exercise series is planned in close coordination with the military leaders of the participating countries. A high degree of cooperation and coordination at all levels of command has enabled U.S. and counterpart forces to enhance combined interoperability.

The combined exercise CARAT between the Royal Thai Navy and US. Navy began in 1995. The Frigate Squadron One and the Frigate Squadron Two of the Royal Thai Fleet take turn in taking responsibility for the combined exercise. The CARAT exercise that emphasizes on many areas of naval operations offers an excellent opportunity for both US and Thai personel to exchange knowledge, improve skills and efficiency in many areas including operation planning, shipboard operations, amphibious operations, special warfare, weapons training, humanitarian operations and public affairs. The ultimate objective is to strengthen the good relations and enhance interoperability between Thai and US Navies.

CARAT 1996

Active and reserve surface combatants, maritime patrol aircraft, a special purpose Marine air-ground task force embarked in amphibious combatants, medical detachments and a U.S. Coast Guard training detachment exercised with six countries in the South China Sea region for two months. In 1996, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore participated. During each stop, our naval forces exercised with the host nation's air, sea and land forces. The objectives for each phase were to promote regional maritime interoperability, increase readiness, enhance military-to-military relations and ensure stability of Southeast Asian sea lanes of communication.

CARAT 1997

Under Carat 97, active and reserve surface combatants, maritime patrol aircraft, a special purpose Marine air-ground task force, medical detachments, and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter conduct exercise with six countries in the South China Sea region for two months each year. In 1997, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand participated. US naval forces exercised with the host nation's air, sea, and land forces to promote regional maritime interoperability, increase readiness, enhance military-to-military relations, and ensure stability of Southeast Asian sea lanes of communication.

CARAT 1998

The fourth annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise took place between the United States and six Southeast Asia countries from May 12 to August 5, 1998. As part of a series of bilateral training exercises, CARAT 98 had U.S. forces training with military forces of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. CARAT 98 involved approximately 1,700 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Participating units include USS Cushing (DD 985), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Sides (FFG 14), USS Monsoon (PC 4), USS Hurricane (PC 3), USS Houston (SSN 713), USS Jefferson City (SSN 759), USS Salvor (ARS 52) and the Third Marine Expeditionary Force.

CARAT 1999

The fifth annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series of exercises between the U.S. and four Southeast Asia nations began on June 28 and continued until August 25, 1999. A series of bilateral exercises, CARAT 99 had U.S. forces operating with military forces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. CARAT exercise was scheduled to take place in Thailand July 26 to August 6. The fifth annual event drew military participation from the United States, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. Overall, the event involved more than 1,500 Navy and Marine Corps personnel in mock combat scenarios designed to emulate real world events.

The CARAT Task Force, composed of San Diego based USS COMSTOCK (LSD 45), USS GARY (FFG 51) and USS GEORGE PHILIP (FFG 12), completed final preparations and deployed May 21 for the fifth annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 1999 exercise. The three ships were joined by USS FREDERICK (LSD 1184) in Pearl Harbor and Marines from Okinawa for bilateral exercises between U.S. Navy representatives and their counterparts from several Southeast Asian countries. Commander, Destroyer Squadron ONE from San Diego, CA, served as CARAT 99 Task Group Commander.

Beginning in June, the CARAT 99 exercise focused on increased interoperability in Anti-Submarine, Anti-Air, Amphibious Warfare, Mine Warfare, In-Shore Undersea Warfare, diving and salvage operations, and logistics with participating Asian countries. The deployment consisted of a series of bilateral phases hosted by the Armed Forces of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Each phase consisted of land based and at-sea operations within the naval training areas of each host country.

U.S. Navy and Marine Corps participants also took part in activities ashore designed to foster goodwill between host counties and U.S. forces. Community Relations projects such as repairing a local orphanage's playground or painting a school give Sailors and Marines an opportunity to lend a helping hand. Also, the Task Force brought Project Handclasp supplies to distribute where needed. Among the supplies were hygiene products, non-perishable foods, school textbooks and toys. Each country also hosted sporting and social events to enhance the personal military-to-military ties between U.S. and host nation forces.

USS Frederick (LST-1184) started phase one of Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training June 28 in Lumut, Malaysia, with accompanying U.S. ships, USS Gary (FFG-51), USS George Philip (FFG-12), USS Comstock (LSD-45), USS Guardian (MCM-5) and USS Patriot (MCM-7).

On July 12, 1999 the second phase of this year's Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training (CARAT) exercise began at an opening ceremony held at the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) Tuas Naval Base. CARAT Singapore 99 included exercise events at sea and ashore, and concluded July 23rd. CARAT Singapore phase involved combined USN and RSN forces totaling 2,000 officers and men, 17 ships including one submarine, diving units, a special warfare unit, and Maritime Patrol Aircraft. In addition, aircraft from both the United States Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Airforce supported exercise elements in the South China Sea.

Sailors and Marines onboard the Naval Reserve Force (NRF) ships USS FREDERICK (LST 1184), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the USS GEORGE PHILIP (FFG 12), homeported in San Diego, CA visited the Asian Pacific country of Brunei Darussalam. The ships were part of a task group participating in the CARAT 99 exercise in the Western Pacific and South China Sea.

USS Frederick's (LST 1184) arrival in Thailand's coastal waters marked the beginning of phase three of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 1999. Frederick served as Commander of the Amphibious Task Force during the exercise. The 'in port team' worked together with representatives of Landing Force CARAT, USS Comstock (LSD 45), Assault Craft Unit Five and Royal Thai naval officers from HTMS Surin and their amphibious squadron. Development of a comprehensive assault plan took more than 180 man-hours. The goal of the plan was to produce and conduct a tactically sound and well-timed evolution. The plan included embarking Royal Thai marines and U.S. Marines and their equipment aboard amphibious ships, followed by movement to Hat Yao beach for a rehearsal. The rehearsal was an opportunity to make revisions and smooth the evolution. Following the rehearsal, the ships moved to a position off of Rayong Beach to carry out an exercise assault. Once all the Marine evolutions ashore were completed, the plan orchestrated recovery of all troops and equipment.

Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia began August 11 in Surabaya, the base for the Indonesian Navy's Eastern Fleet. CARAT Indonesia is part of a series of annual bilateral exercises which so far this year has included U.S. forces operating with the military forces of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. CARAT 99 demonstrates the U.S. commitment to security and stability in Southeast Asia. Exercise events in CARAT Indonesia are primarily designed to improve proficiency and interoperability in skills needed for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. CARAT Indonesia also includes a number of engineering, medical, and dental civic action projects. The exercise involves military construction engineers, mechanics, electricians, veterinarians, doctors, opthamologists and supporting staffs, who, in cooperation with Indonesian military and civilian counterparts, will use U.S. Navy ships to transport their personnel and equipment to areas of Indonesia which will receive medical assistance as well as building and road repair support.

CARAT 2000

The CARAT 2000 series included phases in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. The first phase of CARAT began in the Philippines on June 14 and the final phase, to be conducted in Singapore, ended September 22. CARAT 2000 demonstrates U.S. commitment to security and stability in Southeast Asia while increasing the operational readiness and capabilities of U.S. forces. The exercise will also promote interoperability and cooperation with U.S. regional friends and allies by offering a broad spectrum of mutually beneficial training opportunities.

In Malaysia, CARAT 2000 encompassed two weeks of extensive training to promote interoperability between U.S. naval forces and the Royal Malaysian Navy and Army. The Strait of Malacca was the setting for several exercises. These included anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare and gunnery exercises. One of the exercises was a final battle problem, or night encounter exercise. The two navies' task groups steamed together in formation for more than 25 hours. The Malaysian-U.S. naval task group was divided into two opposing forces. The Blue Forces consisted of USS Reuben James (FFG 14), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39), and the Malaysian ships, KD Sri Indera Sakti and KD Lekir. The Blue Forces were supported by U.S. helicopters from Helicopter Squadron Light 37, Detachment Four, from Hawaii. The Orange Forces consisted of the frigate USS Sides (FFG 14), the Malaysian ships, KD Perkasa, KD Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil, and a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft.

CARAT 2001

CARAT 2001 marked the seventh round in the CARAT series. The CARAT 2001 series, which began in Indonesia in mid-May and ended in Brunei, also conducted bilateral exercises with Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. The CARAT 2001 exercise started May 17 in Jakarta, Indonesia. USS Rushmore, USS Curts (FFG 38), USS Wadsworth (FFG 9) and the Sailors and Marines making up the exercise task group worked with their host nation counterparts in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei as well. The seventh annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT 2001) series of military exercises with several Southeast Asian nations took place in Thailand, June 19-29, 2001. U.S. Embassy Bangkok Deputy Chief of Mission -Marie Huhtala and Royal Thai Navy Deputy Commander in Chief Admiral Griangsak Sripum presided over the opening ceremony of the CARAT 2001 Exercise, which took place at the Chuck Samet Port, Chonburi, on Tuesday, June 19, at 10.00 a.m. The Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Task Group, including two frigates, a dock landing ship, Marines and members of the Coast Guard, spent two weeks in the Philippines for the second phase of the 2001 exercise series. The Philippine phase concluded June 11. By the end of the summer, the CARAT team stopped in six Southeast Asian nations.

Landing Force CARAT 2001 consisted of approximately 400 Marines and sailors from the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The Landing Force is comprised of a command element with a force reconnaissance platoon attached, a combat service support element and a ground combat element which includes a reinforced rifle company, an amphibious assault vehicle platoon, a light armored vehicle section and a combat engineer platoon.

CARAT 2002

The eighth annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise took place between the U.S. and six Southeast Asian countries from May through August 2002. As part of a series of bilateral training exercises, CARAT 2002 had U.S. forces training with the military forces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei.

U.S. Navy ships left Okinawa April 30, headed for the sea services' premier bilateral exercise in Southeast Asia. USS Vincennes (CG 49), USS Anchorage (LSD 36), USS George Philip (FFG 12) and USCG Morgenthau (WHEC 722) got underway for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, (CARAT), a series of bilateral exercises which takes place in the region every summer. The ships left their forward-deployed ports April 8 to embark Marines of III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, who participated in CARAT. The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen sailed throughout the Western Pacific Region during the exercise, making stops in six Southeast Asian nations. The CARAT Task Group included 1,400 U.S. Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

CARAT 2003

More than 400 Marines and Sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force departed here May 28, to take part in the ninth Landing Force Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2003 exercise.

This year the Marines and Sailors of LF CARAT are scheduled to participate in a multitude of training events with their host nations, to include amphibious raids, a number of live-fire exercises, jungle survival training and even Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) training, according to Master Gunnery Sgt. John F. Singleton, operations chief, LF CARAT. The Marines and Sailors will also participate in community building events, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

One of the training events added to this year's exercise is a noncommissioned officer and staff noncommissioned officer symposium with the military of Brunei, Singleton said. The symposium will help each nation learn how the other's NCOs handle themselves personally and professionally.

The primary Marine unit participating in this year's LF CARAT exercise is Combat Assault Battalion (CAB), which is comprised of multiple units. The major units represented in CAB are I Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, deployed to Okinawa from Camp Lejeune, N.C.; a Combat Engineer Platoon assigned to CAB, and an Assault Amphibian Vehicle Platoon, CAB, 3rd Marine Division, which is deployed to Okinawa from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Also represented is a detachment from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division; a Light Armored Reconnaissance Platoon, CAB, 3rd Marine Division, which is deployed from the reserve 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance, Salt Lake City, Utah, and a Combat Service Support Element from the 3rd Force Service Support Group.

In preparation for LF CARAT, many of these units met aboard the Harpers Ferry to test their equipment and practice unloading the ship and delivering Marines and equipment to shore. The two-week workup included several planning and reconnaissance missions designed to prepare the units for the missions they will conduct during the exercise.

The workup was not the only training the Marines participated in as they prepared for deployment. The Marines of I Company and AAV Company, using AAVs off Okinawa's shores, trained in the techniques of amphibious raids and troop transfers in preparation for operations in support of CARAT.

CARAT 2014

The United States and the Philippines began their annual joint naval exercises, in the South China Sea. The drills, which began on Thursday are named Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, or CARAT. It is part of a broader bilateral exercise series, which the US Navy conducts with nine partner navies in South and Southeast Asia. This years CARAT Philippines lasted until July the 1st. Around one thousand naval troops from the US and the Philippines are taking part in the exercises. The US Embassy in Manila said in a statement that CARAT exercises are aimed at addressing shared maritime security priorities, strengthening maritime partnerships and enhancing interoperability among participating navies.

With a newly signed military agreement between the treaty allies, the Philippines, which was locked in a dispute with China over territorial claims in the sea, was heavily focused on beefing up its maritime capabilities. This years exercises included the Philippines two newest and biggest warships. Philippines fleet commander Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino said the country is dealing with various threats at a time that its modest military upgrade is taking shape.

This years joint naval exercises are taking place in waters just south of Scarborough Shoal, where in 2012 a months-long standoff between the Philippines and China ended with China taking control of the shoal. The rich fishing spot lies about 225 kilometers west of the Philippines and some 400 kilometers from China.



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