SITUBONDO, Indonesia -- Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Indonesia 2022 concluded in Situbondo, Indonesia, Dec. 21, following 15 days of in-person and at-sea engagements that enhanced collaboration between the Indonesian and U.S. military.
ARAT/MAREX Indonesia took place in Surabaya, Situbondo and in the Java Sea, Dec. 7-21 and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region and increasing proficiency in amphibious operations.
Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) Capt. Sumarji Bimoaji, commander of Escort Squadron 2nd Fleet Command, served as the exercise commander of the amphibious task force and landing force (CATF/CLF) while the Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) supported the operations as deputy CATF/CLF.
“During CARAT Indonesia 2022, we have learned so much about our TNI-AL and KORMAR partners,” said Col. Samuel L. Meyer, commander of 13th MEU. “They have welcomed us to their home with open arms, and as a result of their hospitality, we have strengthened our relationship and interoperability, both ashore and at sea. Over 28 years, we’ve developed our partnership, and this year’s exercise reassures our united commitment to free and open maritime environments within the region.”
An ashore bilateral coordination center provided exercise support to the at-sea and beach landing operations. The bilateral coordination center included an operational and support joint staff made up of Indonesian and U.S. service members.
“Combining this year’s exercise with a MAREX made CARAT Indonesia the most complex in recent memory.” said Capt. Sean Lewis, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 – executing agent of Commander, Task Group (CTG) CARAT. “The binational staff ashore monitoring, supporting, and providing scenario injects to the combined task force at sea established a great foundation for future multilateral maritime exercises and operations.”
Ships that met and trained together at sea included: the TNI-AL landing platform dock KRI Surabaya (591); tank landing ship KRI Teluk Paul (523); frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) and KRI Abdul Halim Perdanakusuma (355); corvette KRI Diponegoro (365); and patrol boat KRI Singa (651); U.S. Navy ships included: the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8); and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23).
Subject matter expert (SME) exchanges during the first week of the exercise took place primarily in the classroom – topics included maritime domain awareness and intelligence, unmanned aircraft systems, band, public affairs, diving and underwater construction, force protection, legal, and medical. The second week included practical application of the information shared in SME exchanges as well as standing up and executing the bilateral coordination center that supported at-sea operations.
“With the spirit of friendship, I hope CARAT 2022 will benefit the United States Navy and Marine Corps as well as Indonesian Navy personnel,” said Bimaoji. “Moreover, I hope this exercise will be a milestone in strengthening relationship for our countries. Therefore, side by side, we can maintain peace and build a better world.”
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) also participated in CARAT 2022. Additional U.S. assets and personnel participating in the exercise included: Helicopter Sea Squadron (HSC) 21; a P-8A Poseidon assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72; and personnel from U.S. 7th Fleet, CTF 72, 73, 75, 76/3, DESRON 7, COMPHBIRON 7, 13th MEU, and Naval Special Warfare.
CARAT/MAREX Indonesia 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 navies’ 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 destroyer squadron 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 CTG CARAT.
CTF 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 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.