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RCAF starts exercise with US

About 600 sailors from the United States navy have joined hundreds of their counterparts from the Royal Cambodian Navy in a maritime safety and security training exercise in Preah Sihanouk province.

Chrea Vanrith, a spokesman for the US embassy in Phnom Penh, said the maritime exercise, known as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training Cambodia 2010, started yesterday and would run until Saturday.

In a statement issued yesterday, Captain David Welch, deputy commodore of CARAT’s Combined Task Group 73.1, said the exercise would help “build relationships and trust” between the US and Cambodian naval forces.

“Training side by side builds on the already good interoperability between Cambodian Navy forces and the US navy,” he was quoted as saying.

“Though this marks the first year of CARAT with the Cambodian Navy, we’re already seeing results in the way we can better communicate and work together.” According to the statement, the highlight of the exercise will be an “under way” operation, during which US and Royal Cambodian Navy ships will spend a day conducting joint operations at sea – the first time the two countries’ navies have operated at sea as part of a dedicated exercise in more than 40
years.

The CARAT operations will also focus on training for diving and salvage operations, port security, small-boat handling and maintenance, maritime interdiction, seizure boarding operations, maritime aircraft operations and engineering and medical civic action programmes.

CARAT Cambodia 2010 has proceeded in two phases, according to the statement.

The first finished in June 2010, and saw US and Cambodian marines conduct training in the jungle near Sihanoukville at the same time that an explosive ordnance disposal team underwent training near Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is the seventh Southeast Asian nation to have joined CARAT, alongside Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, it said. Bangladesh also recently joined the series.

In July, Cambodia also hosted the US-sponsored Angkor Sentinel 2010, a large-scale military exercise involving more than 1,000 military personnel from 26 countries.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said yesterday that he had not been informed about the exercise. Minister of Defence Tea Banh could not reached for comment.

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