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CARAT Task Group Arrives In Philippines For Final Exercise Phase

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040728-09
Release Date: 7/28/2004 3:21:00 PM

By Chief Journalist Melinda Larson, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Task Group Public Affairs

SUBIC BAY, Philippines (NNS) -- The exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Task Group arrived in the Philippines July 27 to begin the fifth and final phase of the 2004 exercise series.

During opening ceremonies, the Navy's executive agent for CARAT emphasized the exercise's value to the two navies.

"From the U.S. perspective, this is a very valuable exercise, not only in terms of the high quality training it provides our Sailors and Coast Guardsmen in a number of skill areas, but also because of the opportunity it gives us to work extensively, side-by-side with our Philippine Navy counterparts," Rear Adm. Kevin Quinn, commander, Task Force 712, said to a group of about 100 U.S. and Philippine Navy and Coast Guard personnel attending the ceremony. The mayor of nearby Olongapo City, the Honorable James Gordon Jr., also attended.

CARAT is a series of bilateral exercises held annually throughout Southeast Asia that began in 1995 by combining a number of existing exercises to be conducted sequentially by a single U.S. Navy task group. CARAT Singapore was conducted May 31 to June 11, while CARAT Brunei took place from June 21-26. The 10-day CARAT Thailand phase ended July 9. The Task Group arrived in the Philippines after completing CARAT Malaysia July 22.

"You are our mentors," Rear Adm. Quirico Evangelista, Philippine Armed Forces, commander, Naval Education and Training Command said during his opening remarks. "We are working towards modernization of our armed forces, and look forward to working with the best Navy in the world during CARAT."

The CARAT Task Group includes the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), the U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter USCGC Mellon (WHEC 717), rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 52), and for the first time in CARAT history, two of the most advanced platforms in the world - Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers. USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85) will play a significant role during tactical evolutions.

"The presence of the destroyers this year gives us a great opportunity to integrate the Aegis Combat Training System and Battle Force Tactical Trainer into the exercise through both symposia and onboard trainer evolutions," Quinn said. "These systems allow us to create and conduct highly integrated, multi-faceted warfare scenarios that will add significant value to our training efforts."

A combined U.S. Navy, Philippine Navy staff will exercise command and control of the combined task group from Russell.

"This is a great opportunity for our leaders to share and compare concepts, and, surely, learn something about each other along the way," Quinn said.

Five Philippine Navy ships will participate with the U.S. Navy ships during the at-sea phase that will include a full series of basic through advanced events designed to hone war-fighting skills. Exercises at sea include air defense, search and rescue, a drone exercise and associated gun shoots, and a tactical free play evolution. While the standard events are an important part of the exercise, a variety of events have been tailored to meet a changing world situation and new threats.

"For instance, today we share our anti-terrorism knowledge and conduct extensive force protection training evolutions. We're developing our maritime law enforcement skills with the expertise of the U.S. Coast Guard. We conduct symposia on legal issues of mutual interest, such as Law of the Sea, maritime interdiction operations and rules of engagement," Quinn said.

For the first time, the use of the Portable Allied Command, Control and Communications Terminal (PAC3T) incorporated into the exercise will allow secure communications and an operational picture that can be used by commanders to maintain situational awareness of their units and tactical operations.

Through a series of demonstrations, the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange (CENTRIX) system will also be introduced to the Philippine Navy. CENTRIX is a global Internet protocol architecture that allows U.S. forces to share information and operational planning with allies.

"Communication is key, and in a real world contingency or any number of other operations, this capability could make a difference between success and failure," Quinn said.

In nearby communities, U.S. Navy Seabees, as well as medical, dental and veterinary personnel, will participate with their counterparts through a series of civic action projects. Volunteers from the ships will also be involved in community relations projects, including Project Handclasp deliveries.

Quinn stressed that while training is the cornerstone of the exercise, friendship is the foundation.

"When the many symposia, demonstrations and operational events are complete, it is the professional and personal relationships we have developed that remain etched in our memories. While the training becomes second nature through repetition, the opportunity to get to know one another is often once-in-a-lifetime," Quinn said.

The U.S. CARAT Task Group is under the leadership of Capt. Buzz Little. His embarked staff is based aboard Fort McHenry with additional members aboard McCampbell. Little and his staff are based in San Diego, as is McCampbell. Mellon is homeported in Seattle. Russell and Salvor are homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Fort McHenry is part of the U.S. 7th Fleet's forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) operating from Sasebo, Japan. Other elements include a P-3C Orion assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 46, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 49 (HSL 49), based at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

The Seabees are assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3. Approximately 1,400 U.S. personnel are taking part in CARAT Philippines, along with a P-3C Orion and an SH-60 Seahawk aircraft.

Nearly 1,200 Philippine Navy and Coast Guard personnel, along with the five Philippine Navy ships and two aircarft are participating. The ships include BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS 37), BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS 38), BRP Lanao del Norte (LC 504), BRP Hilario Ruiz (PG 378) and BRP Alberto Navarette (PG 394).

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