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Second Phase of CARAT Begins in Thailand

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070621-14
Release Date: 6/21/2007 6:58:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jessica M. Bailey, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SATTAHIP, Thailand (NNS) -- The second phase of the 13th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series began June 19 with an opening ceremony at Sattahip Naval Base.

Officers and enlisted personnel representing the U.S. Navy, Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Marine Corps stood quietly and attentively in ranks as military honors and salutations were rendered during the ceremony, which was cut short by a quick, but heavy downpour.

Royal Thai Navy Vice Adm. Sombat Augsornsri, Chief of Staff for the Royal Thai Fleet, and Royal Thai Navy Rear Adm. Witoon Kumpeerapana, Director General for the Thai forces taking part in CARAT, offered their official greetings and comments in their country’s native tongue. Commander Task Force 73.5 Rear Adm. William Burke, the Executive Agent of the CARAT exercise series, made his remarks in English, emphasizing the special alliance and unique opportunity that CARAT creates for the U.S. and Thailand.

“CARAT presents each of our navies with an opportunity to enhance the practical skills of our Sailors in several tactical areas,” Burke said. “Both of our navies, coast guards, and marine corps stand to learn from each other by conducting this combined training.”

Areas such as maritime interdiction and surveillance, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, amphibious operations, force protection, and diving and salvage operations are at the core of the CARAT training curve, offering hands-on application in real-time scenarios.

However, with communication between U.S. and Thai armed forces being essential to the overall success of CARAT, a reliable system had to be put into place to make that possible.

“During this exercise, we will refine our information sharing techniques and decision making,” Burke said. “Use of the Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System, or CENTRIXS, will help us achieve our goal. With CENTRIXS installed in the exercise headquarters, on board Royal Thai Navy ships, and throughout the U.S. CARAT task group, we have an opportunity to reach new heights in combined command and control.”

With the ongoing threat of terrorism and increased incidents of transnational crimes, there is a cooperative effort between the United States and Thailand to share critical information to lessen the effect on the flow of trade and to maintain safe passage for seagoing vessels.

“Transnational maritime threats such as piracy, armed robbery, and maritime terrorism are real,” Burke said. “We can effectively deal with the threats through international cooperation and regional partnerships where like-minded maritime forces cooperate, sharing information to keep the region’s waterways safe.”

U.S. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen will conduct combined training with Thai armed forces in different operating areas, with an emphasis on maritime interdiction and surveillance at sea. U.S. Marines will work with their Thai counterparts in a combined training environment conducting amphibious operations.

“CARAT presents each of our navies with an opportunity to enhance the practical skills of our Sailors in several tactical areas,” Burke said. “By operating together in an exercise environment, we develop mutual awareness and understanding.”

As the armed forces of both countries come together operationally, a factor that cannot be overlooked is the tremendous humanitarian effort that occurs with each individual phase of the CARAT evolution.

A solid community relations plan during each CARAT phase allows U.S. Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen the opportunity to serve host-nation communities through goodwill projects. Food, books, clothing and toys will be transported from Navy ships to orphanages and schools to benefit needy children in the local Thai community.

Another essential element to community involvement will be various civic action projects that will allow U.S. Navy medical, dental, veterinary teams and engineering professionals to work and train shoulder to shoulder with their Thai armed forces counterparts.

“These projects allow us to serve our generous host community and are invaluable for the people of Thailand and for our uniformed personnel who may find themselves working together in a field hospital or a combat engineering environment in the future,” Burke said. “These experiences are what CARAT is all about, because at the end of the day it is our people who must work together to tackle issues of mutual concern.”

CARAT is a sequential series of bilateral military exercises the U.S. Navy performs annually with the armed forces of six Southeast Asia nations. The exercise continues with scheduled visits to Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia.

The U.S. CARAT task group is under the leadership of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 1, Capt. Al Collins, and consists of the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and the guided-missile frigates USS Jarrett (FFG 33) and USS Ford (FFG 54). Harpers Ferry is the flagship for the exercise.

Collins is embarked aboard Harpers Ferry, which operates out of Sasebo, Japan as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces. His staff is based in San Diego. Jarrett is homeported in San Diego and Ford is homeported in Everett, Wash.

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