Ambassador Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick Remarks at the CARAT 2018 Closing Ceremony

To the Chief of Staff of the F-FDTL, Brigadier General Falur Rate Laek, members of the government of Timor-Leste, the Timor-Leste National Police, the Timor-Leste Defense Force, colleague from the Australian Navy, and to the U.S. Navy sailors and officers. Good morning.

I am happy to be here with all of you today to mark the successful completion of the 2018 CARAT exercise. Today marks the end of the 5th CARAT exercise since the US Navy and F-FDTL began working together in 2013.

I would like to thank the Ministry of Defense; the F-FDTL’s naval and land components; the PNTL’s Maritime Police Unit, and the members of the U.S. Navy’s Commander Task Force 75. Thank you for your thoughtful planning, hard work, and dedication to making this year’s exercise a success. Also, special thanks to the American and Timorese leaders of the CARAT 18 team: Lieutenant Zacarias Vidigal and Lieutenant Manuel Soares of the FFDTL and Lieutenant Commander Paul Duenas of the U.S. Navy.

Our CARAT exercises strengthen maritime security. They strengthen interoperability between the U.S. military and partner nations. This is very important as we work together to ensure a free, open and peaceful maritime security environment in the Indo-Pacific region. The purpose of this year’s CARAT is to accomplish three tasks: small boat repair and maintenance, evidence handling, and shipboard combat medical procedures. This year for the first time we also provided training to the F-FDTL and PNTL on shipboard – or “at sea” medical emergency procedures. It was also intended to improve our interoperability and to help Timor Leste in its mission to enforce the rule of law in Timorese waters. Even more importantly, this exercise helped to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the US and Timor Leste.

We are all very proud of our bilateral and multilateral exercises. Furthermore, the US is committed to helping professionalize the Timor-Leste Defense Force in many other areas. We help to professionalize through our English Training Program. We sponsor English instructors from the US military’s Defense Language Institute. We send Timorese officers and Sergeants to the US through our International Military Education and Training, or IMET, program. For example: One IMET graduate, Sergeant Teixeira, is currently helping our English language instructor, Mr. Robert Mitchell, assigned to teach here at Hera Naval Base. Sergeant Martinho Teixeira is helping to improve the quality of instruction for Timor Leste today. But also, we hope that this experience will help him to become a more capable English language instructor. And we hope that he will train hundreds of F-FDTL soldiers, sailors, and leaders in the years to come. Another graduate we are still very proud of is the F-FDTL Naval Component Fleet Commander, Lieutenant Loe Borges. In 2017, Lieutenant Loe became the first F-FDTL officer to graduate from the Naval Staff College. He also earned a master’s degree at a local university during his time at the Naval Staff College. Earlier this month, Captain Victor Marcal became the first officer from Timor Leste to attend the US Army’s Command and General Staff College.

We hope that our efforts help you build your capabilities and assist you in your mission to enforce the rule of law in sovereign Timorese waters. And we hope that ultimately, these efforts bring a stop to activities like illegal fishing that damage your wildlife areas and steal from the Timorese people. Again, I would like to give my thanks to Brigadier General Falur; the officers, sailors, and soldiers of the F-FDTL, the PNTL; and lastly to our US Navy sailors and officers. Your hard work and sacrifice helped us not only to build capabilities, but also to strengthen the bonds between our two nations.

Have a safe trip home and we look forward to seeing you again next year! We succeed together!