Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 commences


Maritime forces from East Africa, South Africa, Europe, Indian Ocean nations, the United States and several international organizations began the fourth iteration of the multinational maritime Exercise Cutlass Express on January 28.

Exercise Cutlass Express 2015, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (Africom), is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA) and information-sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

The exercise leverages The Djibouti Code of Conduct, which 21 nations are signatory to, as a framework for exercising information-sharing practices and enforcing maritime rule of law at 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).

Exercise Cutlass Express, in its fourth year, is one of four Africa-focused regional “Express” series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F). The exercise is part of a comprehensive strategy by CNE-CNA/C6F and AFRICOM to provide collaborative opportunities amongst African partners that addresses maritime security concerns.

Participating nations in Cutlass Express 2015 include Australia, Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania and Turkey. Additionally, U.S. representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, EU Naval Force, International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Combined Maritime Forces are participating as well. This is the first year sailors from the Madagascar navy are taking part in the exercise, and also the first time sailors from the South African navy are sending a boarding team.

Scenarios will take place in the vicinity of two operational hubs: Djibouti, Djibouti and Port Louis, Mauritius.

The exercise will last eight days, with the focus being on three days of at-sea scenarios to test boarding teams and watchstanders in the Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs).

The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56), homeported in Mayport, Florida, arrived early in the morning and is scheduled to participate in the exercise.

The U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
“Maritime security has long been a cornerstone of U.S. security policy. All of our nations are bound together by the oceans, therefore it is in our collective interest to work together as partners. Each of our nations will be stronger as a result of our close partnership,” said Shari Villarosa, U.S. ambassador to Mauritius.
“We commit to Cutlass Express because we share a common goal: safety and security at sea. A secure maritime environment ensures that global trade continues unimpeded,” said Capt. Richard Dromerhauser, deputy commander, Destroyer Squadron 60.

At the opening ceremony in Mauritius, Dromerhauser said that, “I want to extend a special welcome to maritime professionals from Madagascar, who are participating with us for the first time as observers. I also want to highlight South Africa, observers last year, now participating with a boarding team and a LNO.
“A secure maritime environment ensures that global trade continues unimpeded. Trade—the majority of which traverses across the world’s oceans—is the driver for all nations to realize greater prosperity; greater prosperity enables increased investments in navies and security organizations; and greater security leads to a more stable world. For this reason, safe, secure waterways are a benefit to all nations.
“Cutlass Express is designed to sharpen our skills in a number of areas so we can indeed make the waterways more secure. To reiterate the exercise objectives, we should aim to: conduct maritime operations under existing regional frameworks like the Djibouti Code of Conduct; share information from one MOC to another; increase our maritime domain awareness capacity so we can recognize suspect vessels when they are patrolling our waters; strengthen the bonds between each and every participating nation so that we can all work together for the long term.”