| James Kon |
AROUND 500 military personnel representing the US and Brunei Darussalam will engage in various activities during the 20th Annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise which began yesterday following a ceremony at the Multi-National Coordination Centre.
The ceremony was officiated by the Commander of Task Force 73 and the US 7th fleet’s executive agent for theatre security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Rear Admiral Charlie Williams.
Present were Joint Force Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), Colonel Haji Zainal Ariffin bin Dato Paduka Haji Ahmad; Commodore of Destroyer Squadron Seven, Commodore Captain Fred W Kacher; senior commanding officers from vessels representing Brunei Darussalam and the United States, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Defence.
Rear Admiral Charlie Williams in his remark recalled the history of military ties between both nations in which he remarked, “The sea has connected our nations, our people and our naval forces since the USS Constitution visited Brunei for the first time in 1845.
“As our premier naval exercise is rooted in longstanding cooperation at sea, CARAT Brunei provides unique opportunities to sharpen skills and work together in ways that will serve our nations and the region for many years to come.”
CARAT Brunei, he noted “remains our premier naval exercise and every year there are more participating units.”
He also praised the RBAF for its ability to carry out numerous events one after another.
RBAF has participated in RIMPAC, the largest naval exercise in the world, and then manages to host the 16th Chiefs of Defence Conference prior to the CARAT exercise.
The five-day exercise will feature several new activities based on maritime security, search and rescue operations, an aviation maintenance symposium held ashore, as well as shipboard helicopter operations and a simulated medevac at sea.
Additional symposia held ashore will bring together professionals from both navies to discuss best practices in military law and medicine.
Divers from the Japan Regional Maintenance Center will train with their RBAF counterparts in hull inspection and surface supplied breathing techniques.
A platoon of US marines from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force will conduct military operations based on urban terrain training with the Royal Brunei Land Forces at the Fibua MOUT complex.
Meanwhile, at sea the USS Rodney M Davies embarked with Captain Fred W Kacher, his staff and an MH-60R helicopter that will train with the Royal Brunei Navy vessel, KDB Darulaman and a Royal Brunei Air Force S-70A helicopter.
In addition to the manoeuvering and surface gunnery drills, they will also practice maritime boarding scenarios.
Captain Fred W Kacher said, “We deeply value our naval partnerships with the Royal Brunei Navy as evidenced by their participation in the RIM of the Pacific Exercise earlier this summer and the Southeast Asia Cooperation at Sea exercise in August.
“This week’s CARAT is another great opportunity for our navies to get out to sea together and strengthen our ability to operate safely and professionally with one another.“
The CARAT Exercise aims to enhance regional cooperation, build friendship and strengthen professional skills among participating forces.