Multinational naval drill Cutlass Express to begin in Africa

Maritime forces from Seychelles conduct a visit, board, search and seizure drill on a Seychellois patrol boat during exercise Cutlass Express 2016. Photo: US Navy

Maritime forces from three continents are set to begin the sixth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express on January 31.

Units from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, and the United States, as well as several international organizations will converge for nine days of drills in Djibouti, Djibouti, and Port Louis, Mauritius

Designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa, Cutlass Express 2017 is sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF).

Cutlass Express 2017 (CE17) will test participating nations’ ability to respond to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and search and rescue situations. Maritime operations centers (MOCs) of participating nations will exercise tracking and reporting procedures of simulating suspect vessels.

The exercise will include an in-port preparatory phase and three days of underway drills.

CE17 leverages The Djibouti Code of Conduct, of which 20 nations are signatory to, as a framework for exercising information sharing practices and enforcing international law of the sea.

Scenarios focused on the globally-recognized Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) will allow endorsing nations to develop capabilities to detect and disrupt the delivery of materials used to build and develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) will facilitate a 4-day senior leaders’ seminar with Cutlass Express participating nations to promote the development of national maritime strategies and the development of operational concepts and capabilities to operationalize maritime strategy.

CE17 participating nations include Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Turkey, Canada, Uganda, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United States.

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