Colonel Falur Rate Laek, F-FDTL Chief of Staff; Captain Jeffrey Kilian, Commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment; Defense Attaches in attendance; and of course, to the Sailors, Marines and Fusileros here today, good morning and welcome to CARAT 2017. My name is Dan Bischof and I am the Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Dili. I’m proud to be with you today to open this annual bilateral exercise to enhance maritime security and increase the interoperability of our naval and amphibious forces. We thank the Government of Timor-Leste, the F-FDTL, and the Naval component for hosting CARAT this year. The U.S. Navy and Timor-Leste’s Naval component conducts CARAT to address our shared maritime security interests of the region. To better respond to the threats, our forces must be properly trained, equipped and led to ensure mission accomplishment. CARAT will deliver on each of these areas. This year’s CARAT will focus on naval scuba emergency survival procedures, patrol boat maintenance, and maritime threat engagement. These activities demonstrate the joint efforts of the American and Timorese people in building durable and employable maritime security capacity in Timor-Leste. I challenge all of you to learn from each other in an effort to increase capacity, skills, and knowledge of all our naval forces. The people of the United States and Timor-Leste continue to strongly support our exchanges.
I would like to take a moment to highlight the accomplishments Lieutenant Borges Loe. After LT Borges became the first F-FDTL officer to graduate from a U.S. military staff college, he was featured on the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page. Lt. Loe’s story became one of the most popular posts in the history of our Facebook page, reaching more than 80,000 people from Timor-Leste, the United States, and other countries around the world, with everyone saying “parabéns” and asking for more exchanges. In the future, we hope to see Timorese and U.S. Sailors working side by side on our respective vessels, demonstrating the progress we’ve made through our close cooperation. Our shared vision for the F-FDTL naval component is that it will become fully prepared to detect and deter illegal fishing, combat trafficking, and enforce the rule of law in Timor-Leste’s waters. Historically, CARAT has been a bilateral exercise. However, noting the importance of multilateral cooperation in the maritime domain, the United States will seek additional partners to join CARAT in Timor-Leste. The integrated nature of maritime operations requires joint cooperation to address our shared security needs. I’d like to note with gratitude the Timorese military officer who on this breezy day grabbed our American flag as it was starting to topple – a sign of significant respect which I sincerely appreciate. And now, the moment has come to realize the months of CARAT planning. I wish you all great success this week and in the future. Thank you.