Indonesian Marines Experience U.S. Amphibious Operations
Story Number: NNS050729-09
Release Date: 7/29/2005 4:23:00 PM
By Chief Journalist Melinda Larson, Destroyer Squadron 1 Public Affairs
ABOARD USS HARPERS FERRY, At Sea (NNS) -- Thirty Indonesian marines embarked aboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) in the Java Sea July 26, coming aboard via landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) assigned to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 detachment Western Pacific Alpha.
The marines spent the night aboard the amphibious dock landing ship in preparation for beach offload training July 27 on the island of Java. The embark was a scheduled event during the Indonesia phase of exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2005.
“Number one during CARAT is that we make many new friends. Secondly, we improve our experience and knowledge. And three, it helps us understand new technology, such as LCACs, that we don’t have,” said Capt. Akhmad Mukhroji, a training officer at the Marine Training Command Operational Staff based at Kolatmar, Java who also participated in CARAT in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002.
The marines were given a tour of the ship, settled into troop berthing for the overnight stay, and given a classroom briefing on how the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps work together to position assets on the beach.
While the tangible results of training together are evident, there are subtleties that lay a cornerstone for international relations.
“There are a lot of intangible benefits,” said Marine Corps Maj. Raymond Nolin, the U.S. Marine Corps attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. “When I talked to some of these marines and they told me they have pictures of a road project they worked on during CARAT 1998, it carries over into esprit de corps. When the Sailors aboard Harpers Ferry and the Indonesian marines talked about their families, how long they’ve been away from home, or even what kind of music they enjoy, we find that we share a lot of commonalities and can relate to each other.”
U.S. and Indonesian armed forces personnel worked together earlier this year during tsunami and earthquake relief efforts in Sumatra and Nias Island. During the humanitarian missions, it became clear why combined training exercises such as CARAT are so vital to future operations.
“We saw some of the difficulties that occur when countries don’t train together,” said Nolin. “For instance, balancing people and equipment is important on an LCAC. That’s why we’re training these marines on how to load trucks onto an LCAC.”
An Indonesian officer agreed with Nolin on the value of the two nations training together.
“Cooperation between us is very important. We cannot deny that for the future we should have joint task forces,” said Lt. Col. Sulthon Hasanudin, an officer with the Mortar Transport Batallion based at Surabaya, Java.
CARAT, which began here July 25, is an annual summer series of bilateral military training exercises with several Southeast Asian nations designed to enhance cooperation and cohesion between the countries' respective sea services. The objectives for each phase are to promote regional maritime interoperability, increase readiness, enhance military-to-military relations and ensure stability of Southeast Asian sea-lanes of communication.
Indonesia, which has taken part in the CARAT series since its inception in 1995, postponed its participation in 2003 and 2004.
Rear Adm. Kevin M. Quinn, commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific, is responsible for overall CARAT coordination in his executive agent role as Commander, Task Force 712.
The CARAT task group is led by Capt. Buzz Little, commander, Destroyer Squadron 1, who along with a staff of 13, is embarked aboard Harpers Ferry.
In addition to Harpers Ferry, the CARAT task group is made up of the rescue and salvage ship USS Safeguard (ARS 50), the frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60), and the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60).
Little’s staff is based in San Diego. Harpers Ferry, Safeguard and ACU 5 are forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan. Paul Hamilton is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Rodney M. Davis in Everett, Wash.
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