Different languages, cultures, procedures and equipment can make it difficult for U.S. and foreign militaries to work together.

But by the end of last week’s Thailand phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, 1,500 U.S. and 1,500 Thai forces were working together .

In its ninth year, CARAT is an annual series of training exercises that includes the United States and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries. It is designed to enhance the ability of U.S. sea services and regional allies to work together.

“I would like to praise all the CARAT participants for their hard work and dedication,” Royal Thai Navy Rear Adm. Sommai Prakansamut, commander of Frigate Squadron One, said during a closing ceremony.

U.S. Navy Capt. Terry Bragg, Destroyer Squadron One and CARAT Task Group commander, agreed .

“The opportunity to work alongside our Royal Thai shipmates has allowed the U.S. Navy to gain extremely valuable experience,” Bragg said.

“CARAT Thailand 2003 has been a great success,” Bragg said. “Total mission accomplishment.”

The Thailand phase began June 6 with a four-ship U.S. task group, an embarked Marine Air Ground Task Force, Landing Force CARAT, a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Navy Seabees and a variety of other units.

Nine Thai ships participated.

U.S. and Thai officers took part in “cross-deck” activity that involved spending three days on each others’ ships.

“I got to see how another nation’s navy works firsthand,” said Ensign Leonard Ouzts from the Harpers Ferry. “CARAT continues to strengthen our relations with Thailand. It shows that we can work together as a team.”

More CARAT phases will be held this year with other Association of Southeast Asian Nation countries.

The exercise ...

Participating ships¶ USS Vincennes from Yokosuka Naval Base, a guided-missile cruiser¶ USS Harpers Ferry from Sasebo Naval Base, a dock landing ship¶ USS Safeguard from Sasebo Naval base, a rescue and salvage ship¶ USS Curts from San Diego, a guided-missile frigateFocus of CARAT¶ Sea maneuvering and communications.¶ Naval gunnery¶ Diving and salvage¶ Explosive ordnance disposal¶ Mine warfare¶ Airborne maritime patrol¶ Amphibious operations and force protection

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