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US Navy Holds Annual Military Exercise At Hambantota, Sri Lanka – Eurasia Review

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The US Navy kicked off its 25th annual military exercise, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Exercise (CARAT), in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on Friday. Commander, Task Force 73, a U.S. Navy task force of the United States Seventh Fleet, announced the beginning of the 25th annual CARAT exercise series between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of partner nations on April 19.

CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s oldest and
longest continually-running regional exercise in South Asia and
Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and
enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific. The
CARAT series begins at sea in the southern region of Sri Lanka, where
U.S. Sailors and Marines join the Sri Lanka Armed Forces to conduct
partnered training focused on building interoperability and
strengthening relationships, along with sharing best practices.

The week-long exercise at Hamantota port
will offer Sailors and Marines a chance to conduct underwater diving
sessions, combat lifesaving training and practice small boat maneuvers.
Navy Seabees will also be working with the Sri Lankan Navy civil
engineering branch to renovate an elementary school in the nearby area.

Sri Lankan Sailors will have the chance
to serve aboard Navy vessels for hands-on learning during the at-sea
phase of the exercise to increase interoperability between the two
countries. U.S. assets participating include the Arleigh-Burke class
guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 90), Military Sealift Command
expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and a P-8
Poseidon maritime patrol craft.

“Twenty-five years of CARAT speaks for
the enduring partnerships in this region,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Joey
Tynch, commander, Task Force 73. “CARAT represents a quarter century of
partners and allies in the region bringing their enthusiasm, knowledge,
and perspectives to this exercise. CARAT also represents our future
continuing to work together and strengthening our relationships.”

Each CARAT exercise features a shore
phase with professional symposia and a robust at-sea phase that
incorporates complex evolutions that increase combined operations. Both
feature a broad range of naval competencies ranging from explosive
ordnance disposal and live-fire gunnery exercises to search and rescue
and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. CARAT also builds
personal relationships through professional exchanges, sports and social
events, community service projects and band concerts.

The CARAT exercise began in 1995 and
remains a model of cooperation that has evolved in complexity and
enables partner navies to refine operations and tactics in response to
traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges. Its
continuing relevance for a quarter century speaks to the high quality of
training and the enduring value of maritime cooperation among allies
and partners in South and Southeast Asia.

CARAT builds upon other engagements in
South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region, including Pacific
Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity
Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama (Philippines), Pacific
Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training
(SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations. These
engagements bring naval forces together routinely based on shared values
and maritime security interests.

As U.S. 7th Fleet’s executive agent for
theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia, Commander,
Task Force 73 and Destroyer Squadron 7 conduct advanced planning,
organize resources, and directly support the execution of CARAT and
other engagements in the region.

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