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Thailand Phase of CARAT 2008 Exercises Underway

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080614-07
Release Date: 6/14/2008 6:45:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Dan Meaney, Commander Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SATTAHIP, Thailand (NNS) -- Three U.S. Navy ships and one U.S. Coast Guard Cutter arrived at Sattahip Naval Base in Thailand June 8 to begin the Thailand phase of the 14th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise.

Even before the honor guard was set for the official ceremony on June 10, volunteers from the ship's crews were engaged in community relations projects at schools, a detachment of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 had begun an engineering civil assistance project, and medical and dental volunteers were conducting community health clinics along with their Thai counterparts.

By mid-week Royal Thai Navy and U.S. vessels were at sea with personnel exchanged between vessels to enhance training, increase communication and awareness, and build relationships between the two countries. In addition, marine corps personnel from both countries were jointly executing an amphibious training operation that was months in planning.

"Engagement and interoperability are critical to our maritime security strategy which links regional stability to the ideals of cooperation and the promotion of sovereign partnerships," said Rear Adm. Nora Tyson, commander Task Force 73. "CARAT represents the ideal venue for us to address the spectrum of operations from disaster response to military crises and ensures that we are prepared to respond – not just as individual operating units, but as cooperative regional partners in any given circumstance."

The individual CARAT phases consist of scheduled operational training exercises at sea and ashore, as well as an at-sea tactical free play event. This tactical free play scenario varies by phase and is based on agreed upon objectives of both the host training partner and the United States.

"This year's CARAT exercise presents all of us with an opportunity to continue to build our long standing partnership," said Tyson. "Both of our Navies, Coast Guards and Marine Corps stand to learn from each other by conducting this combined training."

"The CARAT exercise emphasizes many areas of naval operations, and offers an excellent opportunity to both U.S. and Thai military personnel for exchanging knowledge and improving skills in efficiency in operational planning, shipboard operations, amphibious operations and public affairs, as well as anti-terrorism," said Capt. Michael Selby, commander, Destroyer Squadron 1. "The ultimate objective of CARAT is to strengthen the already strong relationship, and further enhance the interoperability of Thailand and the United States."

In Thailand, and each of the other five countries in which CARAT exercises take place, community relations projects, community medical and dental clinics, and engineering civil assistance projects are an integral part of the ships' ports of call. U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine, and U.S. Coast Guard volunteers work alongside their counterparts to improve schools and communities and distribute donated items through Project Handclasp.

CARAT is a sequential series of bilateral exercises held annually with six Southeast Asia nations and the United States to enhance regional cooperation, promote understanding between participating military forces and continue to develop operational readiness of participating forces.

The U.S. ships participating in the exercise are the amphibious docking ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), the guided missile frigates USS Jarrett (FFG 33), USS Ford (FFG 54), and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722). A fifth U.S. ship participating in CARAT is the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50)with an embarked mobile diving and salvage unit that is participating in training and salvage activities with their host nation counterparts. Approximately 1400 U.S. personnel will are taking part in CARAT 2008.

For more news from Commander, Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/clwp.


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