Sandakan, Malaysia (NNS) -- The 21st annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Malaysian Armed Forces began Aug. 17 with opening ceremonies in Sandakan, Malaysia.
CARAT Malaysia 2015 consists of five days of shore-based and at-sea training events, designed to address shared maritime security concerns, build relationships, and enhance interoperability among participating forces.
"This marks the 21st year that the U.S. and Malaysian armed forces have come together for CARAT, and our enhanced military partnership today reflects the maturity of this relationship," said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, Commander, Task Force 73. "Partnerships matter in this region. Sustained partnerships matter even more."
CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
More than 1,000 U.S. military members will participate in CARAT Malaysia alongside their counterparts from Malaysia. The exercise will feature simultaneous amphibious landings; surface warfare drills; visit, board, search and seizure demonstrations; explosive ordnance disposal training; maritime patrol and reconnaissance operations; a gunnery exercise; coastal Riverine drills; and civil engineering projects. Additionally, personnel from both nations will exchange best practices on naval tactics during a series of military seminars ashore.
"CARAT is a practical way for our two navies to address shared maritime security priorities in a realistic training environment," said Capt. H.B. Le, Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "The Malaysian armed forces have been a part of CARAT since its inception, and our partnership's spanning more than two decades demonstrates a firm mutual commitment to stability and security throughout the region."
U.S. units participating in the exercise include littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), a P-3C Orion, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE , Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit FIVE, Coastal Riverine Group ONE, and U.S. Marines assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (III MEB).
As U.S. 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources, and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity with Vietnam, and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.