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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2023

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit Conducts VBSS Training with Timor-Leste Fuzileiros as Part of CARAT/MAREX Timor-Leste 2023

By Cpl. Quince Bisard 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

NAVAL BASE HERA, Timor Leste -- U.S. Marines with Maritime Raid Force, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted a visit, board, search, and seizure training exercise with Timor-Leste Fuzileiros as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training/Marine Exercise (CARAT/MAREX) 2023 series in Naval Base Hera, Timor-Leste from February 10 to 15, 2023.

CARAT/MAREX Timor-Leste is a bilateral maritime exercise between Timor-Leste and the United States designed to promote regional security cooperation, maintain and strengthen maritime partnerships, and enhance maritime interoperability.

The VBSS training was a major component of the exchange of techniques and best practices between the 13th MEU and the Timor-Leste Corpo De Fuzileiros during CARAT/MAREX Timor-Leste 23. The training between the two forces improves maritime domain security skillsets that are vital in strengthening a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The training for the VBSS event consisted of three days of classroom instruction and practical applications, during which both partner forces discussed and reviewed the intricacies of VBSS tactics and techniques. Throughout the initial phase, U.S. Marines and Timor-Leste Fuzileiros worked together, sharing various methods of execution. For the culminating event, the two forces executed a joint VBSS scenario, utilizing 7-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats to maneuver to and board a vessel. Upon arriving at the target vessel, the joint forces worked together to board and began searching for identified targets.

"They were engaged throughout the training and were receptive to instruction," said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Gianmarco, Parnell, a Reconnaissance team leader with the 13th MEU. "[They are a] very hard-working group with endless potential, given the right tools and time to rehearse."

VBSS operations serve as one of the Makin Island ARG/MEU team's most unique capabilities. As a maritime interception operation, it is designed to seize a designated ship or vessel of interest and establish positive control. During execution, it ensures the health and safety of any detained crewmembers and ends by turning the vessel over to the appropriate legal authorities.

These operations are used to counter piracy, confiscate contraband, enforce international agreements, as well as many other complex security-threatening situations. These capabilities are critical for enforcing maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region and preserving a shared vision of a prosperous, stable, and secure region based on international laws.

"This type of interoperability training is critical to our shared interest in maritime security," said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jared Reddinger, commanding officer of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 13th MEU. "As our two countries seek to advance and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, learning to work together in these types of operations will help to ensure our ability to operate in the maritime environment. It also builds relationships and shared understanding between our two militaries."

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 on the Makin Island ARG, comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), 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.

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