SITUBONDO, Indonesia -- The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, completed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Indonesia 2022 in Situbondo and Surabaya, Indonesia, Dec. 21. The 15 days of in-person and at-sea engagements enhanced interoperability and partnership between the Indonesian and U.S. militaries.
CARAT/MAREX Indonesia took place in Surabaya, Situbondo and in the Java Sea, Dec. 7-21, focusing on shared maritime security challenges in the region and increasing proficiency in joint amphibious operations.
Throughout the first week of the CARAT/MAREX exercise, the ARG/MEU team worked with Indonesian navy and marine service members in subject matter expert (SME) exchanges and practical application of topics including restoring a school with our Indonesian counterparts, jungle training, reconnaissance dive exercises, small boat maritime patrolling training, and battlefield wound care.
“The exercise provided us the opportunity to work alongside our Indonesian KORMAR partners,” said 1stLt. Scott Rogers, an engineer officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 13th MEU. “This iteration began with sharing knowledge and techniques in areas including construction and electrical practices. Following the knowledge exchange, we were able to work hand-in-hand with each other to restore a school in Situbondo, reinforcing the learning while helping the local community.”
Further strengthening ties, U.S. Navy Capt. Justin A. Kubu, commander of PHIBRON 7, and U.S. Marine Corps Col. Samuel L. Meyer, commanding officer of the 13th MEU, were able to meet with Brig. Gen. Suherlan, Commanding General of 2nd Marine Division, Indonesian Marine Corps, and his staff. The meeting between leadership allowed both partners to discuss topics such as naval integration and the capabilities of the MKI ARG/MEU, as well as learn about Indonesian culture and shared values.
“During CARAT Indonesia 2022, we have learned so much about our TNI-AL and KORMAR partners,” said Meyer. “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.”
In the second week of CARAT/MAREX, a bilateral coordination center was established, which enabled at-sea operations. The sea phase included joint training at sea, ship to shore movement, and culminated with a joint amphibious assault.
“The exercise provided an opportunity for my platoon to plan and execute a combined infantry and armor assault with a partner force,” said 1stLt. Austin Smith, 3rd platoon commander, Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/4. “Integrating with our partner KORMAR forces mutually increased our capabilities by affording the opportunity to lead each other’s marines in the exercise. Together, we developed the scheme of maneuver over a terrain model before executing an integrated mechanized infantry assault using KORMAR armor and our mixed platoons.”
The joint training executed during CARAT/MAREX improved mutual capabilities and strengthened the relationship between the U.S. and Indonesian navies and marine corps. 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 MKI ARG/MEU supported operations as deputy CATF/CLF.
“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 Bimoaji. “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.”
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 13th MEU is embarked with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and amphibious transport dock ships USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) and USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with Allies and partners and serve as a ready-response force to defend peace and maintain stability in the Indo-Pacific region.