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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Saturday, July 29, 2006

UPI Intelligence Watch

WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- A five-ship United States Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) Task Group is exercising with Malaysian Armed Force units.

The Malaysian phase of CARAT began on July 25.

Royal Malaysian Air Force Brig. Gen. Dato' Hj Jusof addressed the opening ceremony. "We cannot deny the fact that our land, maritime and air forces will one day be required to operate together," he said. "The interoperability of these three services is complex, thus emphasizing the importance of this exercise."

The Navy Newsstand reported on July 25 that Malaysia was the fourth phase of the American Southeast Asia maritime security series. Earlier joint exercises were held with Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

CARAT's Commander Task Force 73 executive agent executive agent Rear Adm. Bill Burke said, "Multinational responses to contingencies are becoming more common. The crisis might be humanitarian in nature, or a combined response to a hostile act. To respond efficiently in either case, it's important that our armed forces work together routinely in a training environment such as CARAT."

Malaysia's new Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency will also participate in CARAT Malaysia, working closely with the crew of USCGC Sherman.

"Our Coast Guard cutter (USCGC Sherman) crew working with Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency counterparts is a positive progression in the evolution of CARAT," Burke said. "The same can be said for the incorporation of the Combined Enterprise Regional Information System, or CENTRIXS. This is simply a way to give something back to the wider communities who host us, while also building some professional and personal ties between the U.S. and Malaysian armed forces personnel who conduct the projects."

CENTRIXS allows navies to communicate and share data in both text and Web-based formats, easing some language difficulties. CENTRIXS will be available aboard CARAT Task Group ships and will be installed at the exercise's onshore headquarters and Royal Malaysian naval vessel.

United States vessels participating in the CARAT exercise include the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper, the dock landing ship USS Tortuga, guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin and the diving and salvage ship USS Salvor.

Malaysian ships participating in the exercise include KD Jebat, KD Laksamana Tun Abdul Jamil, MV Setia Cekal, MV Mahsuri, PZ MMEA and PC MMEA.


The National Guard will meet its goal of having up to 6,000 soldiers along the Mexican border by Aug. 1, as required by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The American Forces Press Service on July 25 quoted National Guard Bureau head Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum as telling reporters in Washington: "They will be in the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas come the first of August. We will meet the president's commitment to do that."

The deployment follows a request that President George W. Bush made in May that National Guard units be sent to help reinforce the border against illegal immigrants. "Operation Jump Start" began in June and is expected to last two years while the Border Patrol increases its numbers.

Blum said that the Guard deployments might go beyond the 6,000 specified soldiers but added that it is difficult to predict the exact number because military units are not built based on numbers. "They're built to deliver capabilities," Blum said.

According to Blum, approximately 4,500 Guard members are already supporting Operation Jump Start.

Blum emphasized that the National Guard deployment does not signify militarizing the border; rather, the National Guard's mission is solely to support the Border Patrol.

Blum told reporters that the National Guard will be equipped solely with non-lethal military technology, including high-tech sensors and infrared radar, as their primary missions will be surveillance and building "tactical infrastructure" such as fences and roads.

Blum said, "The biggest thing we bring in terms of numbers and capability to the game is the additional eyes and ears ... so the Customs and Border Patrol have greater situational awareness of what is going on in places they could not go, could not see, or could not hear.

"The National Guard will just see it and report it to Border Patrol. We are not doing law enforcement. We are doing everything else that other badge-carrying border patrol people used to have to do. We are replacing them so they can get badges back to the border."


U.S. Air Force controllers from the 48th Operations Support Squadron are training their Bulgarian counterparts at the Graf Ingnatievo Air Base.

The U.S. airmen are in Bulgaria as part of the Immediate Response 2006 exercise.

Air Force Print News Today reported on July 25 that the aim of the exercise is to increase Bulgaria's interoperability as new member of NATO.

Bulgarian tower controller Maj. Stoyan Petkov said: "Since (Bulgaria) became a member of NATO recently, the best way to learn is to practice. Every day we work (on) something new. This is good, because this training helps us move into a NATO team more smoothly. I'm looking forward to working more with the Americans and this training, and the exercise, is a step closer to a good working relationship."

Chief controller for the 48th OSS, Assistant Radar Approach Control Tech. Sgt. Richard Walker said, "The operations are running very smooth, and the language barrier is minimal. I just stand back and observe the operations. If needed, I will help the controller talk to the pilot or assist if a procedure needs to be tweaked."

Before operations started July 17 Walker gave the Bulgarian air traffic controllers briefings on the F-15E Strike Eagle's performance capabilities. F-15Es from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England are also at Graf Ingnatievo, supporting the tri-lateral Immediate Response 2006 NATO exercise.

Besides Walker, controller Tech. Sergeant Andrew Fraser is at the Plovdiv International Airport in case Immediate Response 2006 aircraft need to divert. Fraser said, "Some procedures run differently. Overall, the operations have been running smoothly, and it's been quite enjoyable."

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