October 31, 2016
His Excellency Admiral Ouk Seyha and other distinguished members of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the Royal Cambodian Navy, and the National Committee for Maritime Security, U.S. Navy Task Force 75, 30th Construction Regiment, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, U.S. Navy Ship Millinocket 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines; Coastal Riverine Squadron Two; EOD Mobile Unit Five, Seventh Fleet band, and Navy Environmental Preventative Medicine Unit Six—good morning!
I am delighted to be here to participate in the opening ceremony of the sixth annual CARAT exercise. It is my second time joining CARAT in Cambodia, and I am happy to see our partnership grow ever stronger. This year, we see an evolution in this exercise where the U.S. Navy is sending ships and forces that best match U.S. equipment and capabilities with our Cambodian partners. I’m also pleased to learn that we are taking the various independent training events within the exercise and combining them into a comprehensive culmination event that reinforces the skills trained throughout the week. It is also wonderful to hear about the medical exchanges and community outreach program included in CARAT, particularly the band performances at the M’Lop Tabang Orphanage, Don Bosco Technical School, Ream Primary School, Village D’enfant, and their public concert at the Old Bus Station. It is this type of cooperation between the Cambodian and U.S. Navies that goes beyond military exchanges to give back to the local community and inspire young students.
CARAT remains the foundation of a strong maritime partnership between Cambodia and the United States. The mutual benefit derived from training to respond to natural disasters and countering transnational threats is good for all of us. With that in mind, I challenge all of you, Cambodian and American men and women, to train hard and take advantage of this opportunity to learn from each other throughout the week. And keep in mind that it is not just medical and technical skills you are gaining, but a time for Cambodians and Americans to share personal stories, learn about each other’s hometowns, how you got here, and most importantly, how you envision a brighter future for both our countries.
I’ll conclude with the Khmer expression “Wisdom comes from hard work,” a lesson that is certainly relevant for all of us as we conduct this training exercise. Thank you.