US concludes bilateral war exercise in strategic Sri Lanka naval base (Video)

United States has concluded a weeklong military training of the Sri Lanka navy despite concerns about the human rights record of the Indian ocean nation.

The first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Sri Lanka that kicked off on 2 October at the strategic naval base of Trincomalee ended on the 6th.

The bilateral war exercise comes in the wake of the US approving millions of dollars as military  assistance to Sri Lanka.


US views Sri Lanka as a valuable asset in the Indo Pacific region to expand its naval reach.

The exercise was conducted by the  US Seventh Fleet, the largest of the U.S. Navy's fleets operating away from the superpower's maritime boundary.

“The US Navy is pleased to add Sri Lanka to our list of CARAT partners in 2017 as part of our larger efforts to expand both bilateral and multilateral maritime security engagement across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said US Navy Task Force 75 commander commodore Robert Baughman.

The bilateral military exercise "focused on enhancing maritime security skills and operational cohesiveness among participating forces. It also consisted of small boat operations, evidence collection, diving procedures, anti-terrorism security operations and strengthening relationships between military participants through community development projects, sports, and social events," said the Sri Lanka navy.

US navy says that CARAT Sri Lanka 2017 forms part of a series of bilateral CARAT exercises that are scheduled to be carried out between the US Navy and the armed forces of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Thailand.

Accountability and security sector reform

International human rights watchdogs including the UN have repeatedly called to ensure the accountability of Sri Lanka armed forces for tens of thousands of civilian deaths and crimes against humanity in its war against the Tamil majority north.

In 2015 the government of Sri Lanka committed itself to introduce "effective security sector reforms as part of its transitional justice process" at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in a resolution co sponsored by the USA.

However, the government of Sri Lanka that vehemently oppose any action against its military for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity is yet to implement any expected reforms.

A year after the UN resolution, US naval top brass attending a Sri Lanka sponsored international maritime conference pledged assistance to the island valuing its strategic significance.

'Location, location, location'

"I’ve heard it said that there are three things that one must take into consideration when evaluating strategic significance: location, location, and location," chief of the U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris told the Galle Dialogue 2016.

Reinforcing a statement by State Minister of Defence Wijewardene, the first American four-star officer to visit Sri Lanka in almost a decade added, " Sri Lanka is a strategically important location – truly the pearl of the Indian ocean on one of our planet’s most critical trade routes."

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been a strong advocate of opening maritime boundaries for freedom of navigation in a plan he calls, 'Indian Ocean Order' that provides USA with unhindered access.

Lead photo: U.S. Navy Divers, assigned to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, and Sri Lanka Navy divers, prepare for diving operations during the first-ever Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) at the Naval Base in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, Oct. 4, 2017 (Image: US Navy)