US Navy, Royal Thai Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians conduct knowledge exchange during CARAT 2019

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 2nd Class Luke Ostrowski, assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, demonstrates the sensitivity of a metal detector to members of the Royal Thai Navy Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center during a knowledge exchange as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2019. This year marks the 25th iteration of CARAT, a multinational exercise series designed to enhance U.S. and partner navies' abilities to operate together in response to traditional and non-traditional maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey L. Adams)

SATTAHIP NAVAL BASE, Thailand (NNS) – Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians assigned to U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center conducted a knowledge exchange classroom seminar as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Thailand 2019 on May 31.

U.S. Navy and RTN EOD technicians discussed waterborne improvised explosive devices, improvised demolition charges, and the tactics, techniques and procedures for handling different types of explosives and devices used by various extremist organizations.

“Our mission as the explosive ordnance disposal component of CARAT Thailand 2019 is to improve our ability to interoperate with our Thai counterparts and provide them with information and techniques that will ultimately help them accomplish their mission of keeping the Thai people safe,” said Lt. Andrew Kuo, a platoon commander assigned to EODMU 5. “Part of the purpose of this exercise is to exchange information and foster a cooperative environment so that both teams walk away having obtained valuable experience and knowledge that will help in future mission success.”

At the conclusion of the classroom portion of the knowledge exchange, both the U.S. Navy and RTN EOD technicians took turns conducting an equipment demonstration to learn about the similarities and differences between their respective equipment.

According to RTN Lt. Prawit Kongnak, the class leader of the RTN Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center during CARAT Thailand 2019, this portion of the knowledge exchange was invaluable because knowing how each other’s equipment functions and how each team can contribute to a situation is vital in the event they need to respond to a real-life scenario together.

“This type of training is very beneficial for both the Royal Thai Navy and the U.S. Navy because the more you know, the more you can keep yourself and everyone else safe,” said Kongnak. “It is especially beneficial for the EOD community because the only way to keep the community and our teams safe is to study each other’s techniques and procedures in a joint environment to ensure we fully understand how one another thinks and operates.”

CARAT Thailand 2019 is the seventh CARAT Kongnak has participated in and he believes that while learning techniques and procedures is vital, it is not the only thing to be gained from working alongside the U.S. Navy in a combined environment.

“As the years passed, I have seen the progress both our countries have made and how much we have grown and learned from one another,” said Kongnak. “It is amazing to see how the relationship between our two countries has moved from just a professional relationship, but also to one of lasting friendship.”

For the remainder of CARAT Thailand 2019, EODMU 5 and the RTN Diver and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Center are scheduled to continue exchanging knowledge by conducting controlled explosion training demonstrations and by completing two training scenarios involving how to properly dispose of waterborne improvised explosive devices.

CARAT, the U.S. Navy’s oldest and longest continually running regional exercise in South and Southeast Asia, strengthens partnerships between regional navies and enhances maritime security cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific. The Royal Thai Navy has been a part of the annual CARAT series since the exercise began in 1995.

CARAT builds upon other engagements in South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands including Pacific Partnership, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, Maritime Training Activity Malaysia, Maritime Training Activity Philippines, Pacific Griffin with Singapore and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT), which involves nearly a dozen partner nations.

These engagements bring like-minded naval forces together routinely based on shared values and maritime security interests.