Exercise Cutlass Express 2019 begins

Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, and the United States, as well as several international organizations began the eighth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express on 28 January in the vicinity of Djibouti, Mozambique and Seychelles.
Cutlass Express 2019, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is an exercise designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in East Africa as well as information sharing, planning and operating, the US Navy said.

“Today, we face serious challenges at sea such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics and people and the ongoing threat of piracy,” said Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, director, intelligence and knowledge development directorate, AFRICOM. “Our efforts here will help make the region a safer place for maritime commerce and help increase prosperity throughout the region.”

The participating nations will be testing their ability to combat illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, as well as conduct search and rescue operations.

“U.S. Africa Command sponsored exercises like Cutlass Express are part of a wider effort the United States undertakes with African partners to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development,” said Berg.

Participating nations in Cutlass Express include Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Portugal, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, The Netherlands and the United States.

“The United States of America recognizes the importance of a stable and secure East Africa,” said J. Alexander Hamilton, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti. “The success of these countries is largely dependent on a secure environment along the coast and the surrounding seas.”

Cutlass Express is one of three Africa-focused regional, “Express” series exercises sponsored by AFRICOM and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet. The exercise falls under Africa Partnership Station, the umbrella program for the Express series of exercises and other capacity-building initiatives throughout Africa.