Timor-Leste, U.S. conclude maritime exercise

Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Timor-Leste 2023 concluded in Dili, Timor-Leste, Feb. 15, following six days of in-person engagements that enhanced collaboration between the Timor-Leste military and police forces and the U.S. military.

The exercise commenced with the arrival of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and a friendly soccer match between members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) at the National Stadium of Timor-Leste.

“This past week contributed to regional maritime security by enhancing our ability to work side-by-side at sea and ashore across a wide range of naval competencies,” said Capt. Douglas Langenberg, commanding officer of John P. Murtha. 

“As two maritime nations who understand the vital role of protecting our seas and sovereignty, the lessons we are able to leave with here today will only strengthen our ability to build international stability and contribute to global prosperity.”

During the exercise, 100 F-FDTL service members plus members of the National Police (PNTL) participated in a series of trainings aboard John P Murtha and at Hera Naval Base. These trainings included classroom sessions and practical application of combat life saving techniques, helicopter-borne assault operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS).

“I have a deep belief in the relationship with the United States and our common belief in freedom, democracy, peace, and prosperity,” said President of Timor-Leste José Ramos Horta. “We will listen to our friends in the region to contribute towards a region that is more peaceful and prosperous. We’re very grateful to all of you for taking the time and for your partnership with our Defense Force.”

Sailors and Marines from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, and 13th MEU conducted a maritime domain awareness and HADR seminar with members of the F-FDTL and eight Timor-Leste government ministries. Personnel assigned to Commander Task Force (CTF) 73 and Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 engaged in a dive and salvage subject matter expertise exchange with their F-FDTL counterparts.

“Our longstanding security cooperation is helping Timor-Leste strengthen its ability to better monitor its territory, respond to natural disasters, and promote economic development,” said U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Tom Daley. “Through this joint exercise, our hope is that Timor-Leste will be better positioned to defend its citizens, protect its sovereignty, and advance its own national interests. Ultimately, our support is grounded in a vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region where governments can make their own sovereign choices and where shared domains are governed lawfully.”

CARAT/MAREX Timor-Leste is a bilateral exercise between Indonesia and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.

In its 28th year, the CARAT series is comprised of multinational exercises, designed to enhance U.S. and partner forces’ abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th MEU are trained to operate in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

As the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed DESRON in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as CTF 76/3 Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements as the executing agent of Commander, Task Group CARAT.

Task Force 76/3 recently formed as a result of merging the staffs of Navy’s Task Force 76, 7th Fleet, and 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Text credit: Lt. j.g. Mohammad Issa, Command Destroyer Squadron 7 Public Affairs

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Samoluk. Sailors and Marines, assigned to amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), pose for a photo after a game of football with members of the Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) during the opening ceremony of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2023 in Dili, Feb. 10, 2023. 

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