On May 5, IHS Jane’s quoted a senior U.S. navy official as saying that the U.S. Navy is exploring the possibility of expanding the scope and scale of its present training exercises in Southeast Asia.
Captain Ronald Oswald, Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Officer at the 7th Fleet, said on board the USS Blue Ridge on May 4 that next year could see the rise of more multilateral exercises between the United States and countries in the region, including previously bilateral exercises expanding into multilateral ones with the addition of new partners.
“Historically, most of our exercises have been bilateral; [however] we are also exploring doing more multilateral exercises with our counterparts,” Oswald said. “I think you’ll see a number of [expanded] events beginning next year that bring additional partners into previously bilateral exercises.”
His remarks are not surprising. U.S. officials have been looking into broadening these exercises for a while now, and analysts have been suggesting various ways that this might be done.
Oswald unsurprisingly did not offer much in the way of specifics. He did, however, hint at the potential growth for existing programs such as the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercises. CARAT is a series of bilateral naval exercises conducted by the U.S. Navy since 1995 and now involves several countries in Southeast and South Asia including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.