The 25th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia concluded during a ceremony at the Indonesian Navy’s 2nd Fleet Training Command headquarters Aug. 7.
The CARAT exercise series is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthen partnerships. Indonesia has been a participant since the series began in 1995.
“Any time we have the opportunity to conduct such extensive and dynamic training, it has an undeniable impact on our ability to effectively integrate forces,” said Capt. Ann McCann, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7. “We were able to exchange knowledge that benefitted both sides, then collectively and successfully put that knowledge to practice during our at-sea phase of the exercise.”
This year’s exercise included both on-shore and at-sea training, including subject matter expert knowledge exchanges and practical exchanges across a wide range of naval warfare mission areas, as well as realistic underway scenarios involving ships from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Navy.
“We had a very productive and very successful exercise,” said Lt. Taylor Armstrong, DESRON 7’s lead planner for CARAT Indonesia 2019. “I think it’s been very rewarding for everyone involved to work side by side on challenging objectives and not only achieve those objectives, but build on the existing level of interoperablity we already had coming into the exercise.”
Training during CARAT Indonesia fell under a number of maritime areas:
• Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) was a major focus of the exercise and consisted of numerous symposiums and knowledge exchanges, as well as a sea phase that included an integrated MDA Information Sharing Center.
• Integrated visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) drills involving VBSS teams and ships from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Indonesian Navy.
• Integrated dive team training and practical dives between U.S. Navy Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 1 and Indonesian Navy dive teams.
• Jungle survival training between U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment out of San Diego, currently deployed to Marine Rotational Force Darwin, and the Indonesian Marine Corps.
• Preventive medicine knowledge exchanges between Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit 6 and Indonesian Navy medical personnel.
• Submarine operations and tactics tabletop exercises.
The maritime domain awareness Information Sharing Center was the main focus of the at-sea phase of the exercise and served as the central hub for information collected by all participating assets.
“One of the most rewarding things about working with the Indonesians was being able to see what were essentially immediate results,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Jamie Hofmeister, CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) administrator for CARAT Indonesia 2019. “Not everyone had experience with CENTRIXS, but by day two, they were not only fluent, but even knew how to troubleshoot. I think everyone walked away from the exercise better and stronger.”
U.S. assets during in CARAT Indonesia 2019 included staff from CTF 73 and DESRON 7, the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8), the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4), the Legend-class Coast Guard cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752), MV Carolyn Chouest, Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit 6, Naval Construction Regiment 30, Naval Special Warfare Unit 1, Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 1, Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment out of San Diego, currently deployed to Marine Rotational Force Darwin, the U.S. 7th Fleet Band and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
Participating assets from the Indonesian Navy included the Diponergo-class corvette KRI Sultan Iskandar Muda (367), the Fatahillah-class corvette KRI Nala (363) and the Sampari-class fast missile boat KRI Sampari (628), as well as additional aircraft, staff and special operations forces.
CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s longest running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific.
CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Philippines, Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These engagements bring like-minded naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.