Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at the Closing Ceremony for the CARAT Exercise

November 4, 2016

Your Excellency Admiral Tea Vinh, Major General Steven Rudder, distinguished guests and members of the Royal Cambodian and U.S. Armed Forces, arun suasdey, good morning to all!

Thank you very much for inviting me to take place in the closing ceremony for the 2016 Cooperation and Readiness Afloat Training, or CARAT, exercise.

I would like to begin by recognizing and thanking all of the Cambodian and American sailors, marines and soldiers who participated in this exercise. You have shown professionalism, hard work and commitment. Congratulations for a job well done and for completing such an important exercise!

We appreciate very much the friendship and cooperation of our Cambodian hosts, both over the past week and during the various planning conferences that took place beforehand.

And if I may, I would also pay tribute to several visiting U.S. units who have done an outstanding job in this exercise—the 3rd battalion, 2ndMarines, the Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit and the 7th Fleet Band.
Your Excellency, the annual CARAT exercise between our two countries began in 2010 and has steadily grown more sophisticated since, to the mutual benefit of the men and women of both our forces. This increased complexity was on full display this week.

The skills we practiced – including pre-mission planning, small boat tactics, and mass casualty triage and treatment – are essential for activities ranging from maritime law enforcement to search and rescue operations during a disaster response event.

We are also pleased that this year, our forces conducted a very successful joint field exercise to put into practice everything the sailors learned through the week. This included a beach landing; visit, board, search and seizure training; and medical and preventive medical training events.

The United States and Cambodia should be proud of the increased level of complexity we have witnessed with each evolution of CARAT since 2010. CARAT is the flagship maritime exercise between our two militaries, and the advances in naval cooperation we have witnessed over the past seven years have benefited both the United States and Cambodia.

Our increasing cooperation also has an important regional component. The United States conducts CARAT exercises with nine partner nations – each of which plays an important role in regional maritime security – with the goal of improving interoperability between our forces.

We have learned from experience that such interoperability is critical in times of major natural disasters, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or typhoon Haiyan in 2013. At times like these, no country responds alone. Mounting an effective international response effort can make an enormous difference in reducing human suffering.
And of course, the more we train together, the better we can respond together. We are proud that the skills we practiced this week could one day help the people of Cambodia or another nearby country when they face a natural disaster.

Your Excellency, our military-to-military cooperation is only one aspect of the strong, and growing, relationship between the United States and Cambodia. We are major economic and trade partners, have important cooperative programs in health, education, the environment, and law enforcement, and have rapidly growing people-to-people ties. This is good for the United States and Cambodia too.

In closing, I would like to wish you all “fair winds and following seas!” I look forward to seeing you all next year here at Ream Naval base for an even better and more complex training exercise!
Thank you very much.