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Final Phase of CARAT 2003 Kicks Off in Malaysia

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS030724-05 Release Date: 7/25/2003 6:09:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Jim Bane, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Public Affairs

KUANTAN, Malaysia (NNS) -- Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces and the U.S Navy and Marine Corps gathered in the Kuantan Air Base auditorium here July 24 to open the final phase of the 2003 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. During the exercise, a variety of training events involving assets of both countries will take place at sea, in the air and ashore.

"Today, the uncertainties of the world situation demands that our armed forces be prepared and ready at all times to protect our own sovereignty," said Royal Malaysian Navy First Adm. Mohd Amdan bin Kurish, commander, Naval Area 1, and guest speaker at the ceremony. "It is interesting to note," he said, "that the current global trends seem to demonstrate much emphasis on interdependence and cooperation to achieve better results and heighten sustainability. This kind of exercise provides us with the opportunity to learn from the wide experience that the United States has."

In this ninth edition of CARAT Malaysia, the United States brings a four-ship task group and embarked Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) - and approximately 1,500 personnel.

This year's CARAT Malaysia, located on the country's east coast, joins three Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) ships, and personnel and assets of the Royal Malaysian Army and Air Force to build on the cooperation Amdan mentioned.

Simply getting to the point of conducting CARAT was in and of itself an exercise in cooperation, Amdan said. "The man-hours spent on planning do have advantages. The interaction that occurred during the planning stages have greatly enhanced our aim to work together as a team."

The planning over the past year resulted in an exercise schedule of events that includes numerous training evolutions, including those that test shipboard systems and equipment capabilities, amphibious operations, jungle cross-training, explosive and ordnance disposal, salvage diving and flying tactics events.

Royal Malaysian Navy Capt. Mohd Yusof bin Sabudin, assistant chief of staff (Operations) for his navy's Fleet Command Headquarters, presented an overview of the exercise events during the ceremony, and emphasized safety as priority number one.

"We will be successful if we complete the exercise injury free," he stressed, while also pointing out that personal interaction among CARAT participants is a goal, along with operations. Social events and sporting activities are planned to bring U.S. and Malaysian personnel together.

"As you are all aware, Malaysia, being located at one of the centers of the global geo-political interest points, undoubtedly will have to face greater challenges in our defense responsibilities," Amdan said. "This exercise is an important for us.because it provides us with the opportunity to learn new things."

The CARAT task group is made up of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49), guided-missile frigate USS Curts (FFG 38), dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) with the embarked MAGTF, Landing Force CARAT, and the rescue and salvage ship USS Safeguard (ARS 50).

Other U.S. assets include several F/A-18D Hornet aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242, a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and crew from Patrol Squadron (VP) 4, an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 51, along with personnel from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, the Joint Interagency Task Force, Sailors from the U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Area and agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Singapore.

Capt. Terry Bragg, commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, embarked in Vincennes, leads the CARAT task group. Lt. Col. Timothy Armstrong is commanding officer of Landing Force CARAT.

Bragg's staff is based in San Diego, as is Curts. Vincennes, Harpers Ferry and Safeguard are part of the U.S. 7th fleet's Forward-Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) operating from Japan, with Vincennes forward deployed to Yokosuka, and Harpers Ferry and Safeguard forward deployed to Sasebo. The MAGTF, Landing Force CARAT, is established annually by direction of the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan, and is drawn from a variety of Marine Corps units. VMFA-242 is deployed to Iwakuni, Japan, and based at Marine Corps Air Station Mirarmar, Calif. VP-4 is deployed to Misawa and Okinawa, Japan, and is based in Kaneohe, Hawaii. HSL-51 is forward deployed to Atsugi, Japan. EODMU 5 is based in Guam.

CARAT exercise phases with the armed forces of Thailand, Brunei and Singapore have taken place over the past two months.

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