Exercise Cutlass Express kicks off in East Africa

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Sailors and civilian maritime professionals from eight nations officially kicked-off exercise Cutlass Express 2012-2 yesterday in Djibouti, Mauritius and Tanzania.

This year’s weeklong exercise, being conducted for the second time since its inception last year, is part of the larger ‘Express’ series of exercises and is designed to advance East African maritime relationships while addressing mutual security issues, the United States Navy said.
“Exercise Cutlass Express is aimed at enhancing capacity to fight piracy in our area,” said Maj. Gen. Farrah Mohammed, chief of operations and Training, Tanzanian People’s Defence Force, during the opening remarks in Dar es Salaam. “This work is commendable and is an important endeavour towards combating piracy, illicit trafficking and illegal fishing.”

Pre-sail training events for Cutlass Express 2012 (CE12) will be held in-port in Djibouti, Mauritius, and Tanzania while the at-sea training will be simultaneously conducted in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. The exercise is scheduled to conclude on November 8.

During the in-port portion of training, combined maritime forces will conduct pier-side workshops focusing on maritime interdiction operations (MIO) including vessel boarding drills. Exercise participants will also practice first aid procedures and conduct communications drills.

After in-port training is complete, the at-sea portion of CE12 will begin in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Vessels involved ranges from small out-board Defender boats to larger ships including HNLMS Rotterdam, flagship of NATO Task Force 508.

At sea, ships and their crews will coordinate with regional maritime operations centers in Mauritius, Djibouti, and Tanzania during scenarios tailored to address counter-piracy, counter-narcotics trafficking, and illegal fishing.

Royal Netherlands navy Commodore Ben Bekerring, commander, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, spoke about the benefits of working together through opportunities such as Exercise Cutlass Express.
“What we have learned is that we need to have an international approach, which is why it’s important to combine our strengths,” Bekkering said. “It is important to work together and look for further improvement in information sharing; this is the key to success.”

CE12-2 is a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) sponsored exercise focusing on addressing common maritime issues through information sharing and coordinated operations among East African navies.

Participating countries in CE12-2 include Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, the Netherlands, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States.