Just days after the Thailand phase of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise concluded, military training began in Brunei between the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and U.S. participants.

A three-ship U.S. Navy task group with an embarked Marine Air Ground Task Force arrived Monday. The weeklong Brunei phase started Tuesday, according to Navy news reports.

In its ninth year, CARAT is a series of training exercises with several Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.

It enhances cooperation of the U.S. sea services and those of allies throughout the region.

During CARAT training on Wednesday, pilots from U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron 4, or VP-4, climbed behind the controls of a Royal Brunei Air Force aircraft.

The flight, along with classroom instruction, prepared participants for combined search-and-rescue training.

“You learn only so much from a symposium,” said RBAF Capt. Mohammad Sharif, in a news release. “You learn so much more when you get out of the classroom and in the air.”

“Having flown together, we’ve developed a measure of trust,” said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Van Fleet, in the reports, adding that trust is critical to combined operations, as well understanding the aircraft’s characteristics.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen USS Safeguard divers trained with seven RBN divers.

The U.S. divers showcased diving supervisory responsibilities, including standards for identifying symptoms of decompression sickness and decompression chamber operating procedures, the reports noted. They finished with a combined scuba dive to inspect the ship’s hull.

“We do have the reputation of being at the forefront of diving standards,” said Safeguard’s master diver, Senior Chief Petty Officer Terry White, in the reports. “It’s good training for us, too. Showing them our procedures helps keep our divers proficient in the basics.”

The CARAT 2003 Thailand phase took place June 6-13. Exercises in July with Singapore and Malaysia will round out the series.

CARAT – Brunei

The Brunei phase includes:

• Training in at-sea maneuvering• Communications• Command and control• Diving and salvage• Force protection• Maritime patrol• Jungle operations.

Selected participating forces:

• Units of the Royal Brunei Land Force and Air Force• The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes from Yokosuka Naval Base• The U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Harpers Ferry from Sasebo Naval Base• The U.S. Navy’s rescue-and-salvage ship USS Safeguard from Sasebo Naval Base• A 400-strong MAGTF, Landing Force CARAT, embarked on Harpers Ferry.• A P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and crew from Patrol Squadron 4• An SH-60B Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 51• Personnel from the Joint Interagency Task Force• Sailors from the U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Area• Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative, Singapore

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