HERA, Timor-Leste – The U.S. Navy and Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) began the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Timor-Leste exercise Aug. 27, with an opening ceremony at Port Hera Navy Base. CARAT Timor-Leste 2018 is designed to address shared maritime security concerns, build relationships and enhance interoperability among participating forces. “We look forward to seeing how this week’s training will develop maritime security capacity in Timor-Leste, which benefits both the Timorese and American people,” noted U.S. Embassy in Timor-Leste Deputy Chief of Mission Dan Bischof during his welcome remarks at the opening ceremony. “CARAT is a great opportunity to continue to build the framework for future training and subject matter expert exchanges,” said Capt. Robert Baughman, Commander, Task Force 75. “The past six years have strengthened a friendship and partnership that contributes to regional maritime security by enhancing our ability to work side-by-side across a wide range of naval competencies.” CARAT – entering its 24th year overall – is a series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia. The U.S. Navy also conducts Maritime Training Activities (MTA) with the Philippines, Naval Engagement Activities (NEA) with Vietnam and Exercise Pacific Griffin with Singapore. “This year our forces will conduct integrated training in small boat safety and engine maintenance, basic shipboard medical procedures, and evidence processing and physical controls,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Yandoc, officer in charge of Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Det. Guam. “This exercise enhances capability, cooperation, and interoperability between United States and Timor-Leste Naval forces.” In its sixth year in Timor-Leste, CARAT 2018 will focus on improving maritime security capabilities and increasing interoperability. The exercise is just one aspect of the growing U.S.-Timor-Leste partnership, which includes annual port calls by U.S. Navy ships, visits by senior U.S. Navy leaders and ongoing civic action projects by U.S. Navy Seabees deployed to the Timor-Leste Civic Construction Action Detail for the past decade. During this year’s exercise, U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Det. Guam and 7th Fleet Surgeon’s Office will train with their F-FDTL counterparts at Port Hera and the surrounding area. The training will consist of medical and small boat subject matter expert exchanges as well as service projects, receptions and sporting events that will allow participants to interact with the local community. For more news from Commander, Task Force 75, https://www.facebook.com/CTF75Guam/.