Maritime forces from the United States, 10 East African and two European nations, along with several international organizations, commenced the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2013, Nov. 11.
Exercise Cutlass Express 2013, held in several operational areas in waters off East Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation, tactical expertise and information sharing practices among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region.
The week-long exercise will take place in the vicinity of four different naval hubs: Mombasa, Kenya; Djibouti, Djibouti; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Port Victoria, Seychelles. The exercise will feature in-port phase activities before practicing naval concepts at sea.
“We want to continue to make the waters off East Africa a safer place, and that’s what you’re here to do,” said Capt. Guy Jackson, Cutlass Express 2013 Exercise Director, in remarks during an opening ceremony in Seychelles.
“Cutlass Express is designed to enhance maritime security capabilities, improve information sharing and strengthen the bonds of each and every participating nation, so that we can all work together for the long term.”
Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed Abdelrahim, Head of Liaison from the East Africa Standby Force, echoed Jackson’s sentiments at the ceremony and expressed the importance of cooperation and collaboration in ensuring maritime security.
“We East African nations have benefited greatly from the exercises and activities that our forces have completed; we look forward to this week’s exercise,” said Dr. Abdelrahim.
Cutlass Express aims to test a wide variety of skills such as maritime boarding, medical response, radio communication, and information sharing across regional maritime operations centers (MOCs).
Participants will execute tactics and techniques within scenarios that mirror real-world counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations as well as actions taken to deter illegal fishing.
Exercise Cutlass Express, in its third year, is one of four Africa-focused regional “Express” series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. The exercise is part of a comprehensive strategy of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to enable African partners to address maritime security concerns.
The exercise serves to demonstrate and test skills that are developed as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) and ongoing efforts to increase maritime domain awareness.
Started in 2007, Africa Partnership Station is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.
“This year we have 13 nations participating. Such a high number represents the outstanding cooperation we are seeing in this region, a cooperation that we hope to see continue to increase as a result of this exercise,” said Jackson.
Participants in Cutlass Express 2013 include Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Comoros, Yemen, the Netherlands, Denmark and the U.S. Representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, NATO, and EU Naval Force will also participate.
Press Release, November 12, 2013; Image: US Navy