Exercise Cutlass Express comes to a close

The seventh iteration of the annual maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2018 concluded in Seychelles on February 7.

Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, and the United States, as well as several international organizations worked together to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa.

“We appreciate the enormous effort Seychelles put in to hosting this year’s exercise,” said David Reimer, US ambassador to Seychelles and Mauritius. “Maritime security was the first thing President Faure and I discussed yesterday. It’s not just a US concern, or just a Seychelles concern, it’s an international priority.”

The exercise lasted eight days and included an in-port preparatory phase, five days of underway visit, board, search and seizure drills as well as various workshops in Seychelles and Djibouti.

“The Djiboutians have always been wonderful and gracious hosts — both for this exercise and for the US military in a more broad sense,” said Capt. John Tully, senior defense attache at the US Embassy in Djibouti. “With Cutlass Express they accommodate a group of partners from the region, as well as further afield, for a multinational exercise, and that’s huge. I think it speaks volumes about their status as a regional leader in maritime security and even in broader security issues.”

The US Navy War College additionally facilitated a senior leaders’ symposium (SLS), which promoted the development of national maritime strategies and the development of operational concepts and capabilities to operationalize maritime strategy.

The participating nations successfully tested their ability to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, as well as search and rescue situations. Maritime operations centers gave participating nations the ability to track and report procedures of simulated suspect vessels.

This year’s exercise was the first in 27 years that Somalia participated in an international exercise outside their borders.

Nations that participated in this year’s exercise included Australia, Canada, Comoros, Denmark, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Turkey and the United States.