The U.S. and Bangladesh navies will expand relationships and broaden maritime awareness during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Bangladesh 2020, commencing Nov. 4.
CARAT Bangladesh 2020 demonstrates the United States' continuing commitment to working with the Bangladeshi military to address shared maritime security concerns in the region and strengthen our partnership to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“Working together with our friends and partners is a force multiplier for peace and stability,” said Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7. “We will continue to operate with and learn from the Bangladesh Navy and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our commitment to a free and open maritime commons.”
Historically, CARAT exercises involve people-to-people interactions and relationships through a variety of professional exchanges and symposia, subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs), community relations projects, and social events. To mitigate COVID-19 risks, exercise events were planned virtually and current SMEEs will take place online, using real-time virtual meetings, for U.S. and Bangladesh to share best practices and carry on discussions in a live forum.
Despite the challenges in a COVID-constrained environment, online technology allows the opportunity to safely exercise with partners in the region.
Commander, Bangladesh Navy Fleet Rear Adm. M Mahbub-Ul Islam, who presided over the opening ceremony, said mutual cooperation and partnership is essential to make the maritime domain safe.
“The longstanding relationship between the U.S. and Bangladesh has been steadfast and time tested,” said Mahbub-Ul Islam. “Exercise CARAT with this level of difficulty, of enhancing cooperation, and in friendship, and strengthening professional interoperability, has become a unique forum to work with the U.S. Navy.”
The virtual SMEE events will feature a variety of joint training opportunities, to include replenishment at sea (RAS) training, maritime domain awareness (MDA), legal regulations at sea, and aviation best practices of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, and maritime patrol and reconnaissance (MPRA) fixed wing aircraft.
This is the first year United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Bali Process Regional Support Office are supporting CARAT Bangladesh. Both organizations' expertise provides the U.S. Navy and the Bangladesh Navy a better understanding of the international rules and norms associated with operational challenges of today's complex maritime security mission. Their technical expertise assisted in developing a tailored scenario with an emphasis on strengthening capacity to adhere to international standards and legal obligations to more effectively counter maritime security challenges at-sea.
UNODC educates and offers practical assistance on technical assistance to combat maritime crime, including trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, through its interregional approach. The Bali Process supports efforts to protect migrants at sea, and explores cooperative approaches to confront the scourge of people smuggling and trafficking of persons.
The sea phase will take place in the Bay of Bengal with ships and from both partner militaries, with events designed to enhance interoperability between the two navies. U.S. and Bangladesh will work through coordinated deployment of surface ships, to include tactical maneuvers. Ships will also participate in a gunnery exercise, rehearse division tactics, man overboard and search and rescue procedures, and RAS approaches, all designed to enhance communication sail together in complex maneuvers.
“We are continuing to grow U.S.-Bangladesh cooperation and training foundation through virtual means and at sea,” said Capt. Ann McCann, commodore, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 during the virtual opening ceremony. “While we cannot meet in person this year, our communication and bonds remain strong, and we look forward to practicing maritime professionalism when we meet at sea and online.”
Bangladesh marks the second CARAT exercise in 2020, following CARAT Brunei in the South China Sea, 5-9 Oct. The CARAT exercise series, celebrating its 26th anniversary, is designed to address shared maritime security concerns and strengthens partnerships between regional navies. Bangladesh has been a participant since 2011.
U.S. assets participating in CARAT Bangladesh include staff from Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 73, CTF 76, DESRON 7. Afloat units include the Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3).
With nearly a half century of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Bangladesh, the two countries continue to work closely together to advance a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and secure Indo-Pacific region. CARAT Bangladesh 2020 underscores this shared commitment.
ESG 7/CTF 76 and DESRON 7 conduct advanced planning, organize resources, and directly support the execution of CARAT and other engagements, in support of theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia.