The US and Indonesian military workforce have virtually commenced Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2021 Indonesia.

The exercise began in the Indonesian city of Surabaya and in the waters and airspace of the Java Sea on 1 November.

In the 11-day drill, the US and Indonesian forces will work together towards achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific maritime security environment.

Participants of the exercise include US personnel from the 7th Fleet, Marine Forces Pacific, CTF 72, CTF 76, DESRON 7, CTF 73, CTF 75, US 7th Fleet Band and US Embassy Jakarta.

The US naval assets and aircraft taking part in the drill include Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson, embarked MH-60S Seahawk helicopter of HSC Squadron 23, Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket, and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7 commodore captain Tom Ogden said: “Strong relationships are built on trust and developed through demonstrated actions and consistent and thoughtful discourse.

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“These strong relationships are the foundation on which security, stability, and prosperity flourish.

“CARAT Indonesia is a perfect venue for the US and Indonesia to address mutual maritime security concerns, and to expand our cooperation in South-East Asia.”

The at-sea phase of the exercise will be held in the Java Sea, where US Navy’s assets will join the Indonesian Navy’s vessels and aircraft.

The exercise was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, this year’s CARAT Indonesia is being held by following safety mitigation measures to contain the spread of the virus.

During the opening ceremony, Second Fleet Command Chief of Staff TNI-AL first admiral Rachmad Jayadi said: “CARAT 2021 is a forum for military-to-military cooperation between Indonesia and US, especially the Indonesian navy and US seventh fleet bilateral programme.

“This joint exercise aims to improve the capabilities of the navy personnel in the field of warfare capability and become a place for sharing our knowledge and enhancing the skills of naval warfare, as well as interoperability in facing maritime security challenges in the two countries.”

In 2018, the US Navy and the Timor-Leste Defense Force conducted the 24th iteration of the CARAT exercise at Port Hera Navy Base in Timor-Leste.