US Navy Participates in Multilateral Exercises with South and Southeast Asian Counterparts and Plans for Further Cooperation

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by Justin Chock
Rear Admiral Leopoldo Alano, Commander Philippine Fleet, (left) shakes hands with Rear Admiral William Merz, Commander, Task Force 74 at the beginning of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2015. Image: US Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joe Bishop, USN.

Important naval exercises took place recently in the Pacific between the US Navy and allies in South and Southeast Asia.

The CARAT Exercise (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) involves the US operating alongside partners to include the Philippines, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste. Last month marked the start of CARAT Philippines (June 22-26) while this week marks the start of CARAT Singapore (July 13-24). Over 700 US Sailors and Marines are scheduled to participate in the Singapore exercises.

Simultaneously, Talisman Sabre 2015 will take place from July 4-19 with the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), Flagship of the US 7th Fleet, as the command and control platform between US 7th Fleet and Australian Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC).

These efforts are part of many other training and exercise initiatives that the US conducts annually with allies around the Pacific.

Beyond the interoperability exercises afloat that span operations involving ships, submarines, aircraft, and even unmanned aerial vehicles, the event includes shore-based exchanges, professional symposia, military seminars, civil action projects, community service projects, sports games, and numerous other events designed to strengthen cooperation between the US and its allies among both military and civilian groups.

 While many of the exercises are bilateral, the US is looking to expand the group of participants to form increasingly multilateral exercises with its partners as part of the ongoing Rebalance to Asia.

Fleet-Level visits with China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are similarly being planned with the 7th Fleet’s goal of visiting all three PLAN Fleet Headquarters in the next three years. The first of three involved a visit to the North Sea Fleet in Qingdao, People’s Republic of China (PRC) last August, with the second being a visit to the South Sea Fleet in Zhanjiang, PRC this past April. The third visit to the East Sea Fleet is scheduled to take place in 2016 in Ningbo, PRC.

As the exercises continue, the US Navy will continue to post the latest pictures of CARAT and Talisman Sabre on flickr and facebook.

Justin Chock is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a graduate student at Oxford University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor the U.S. Government.