Cutlass Express 2019 kicks off in Djibouti

The eighth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express taking place in the vicinity of Djibouti, Mozambique and Seychelles began on January 28.

US missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) departs Djibouti, Djibouti, following a scheduled port visit during exercise Cutlass Express 2019. Photo: US Navy

Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, and the United States, as well as several international organizations are taking part.

Sponsored by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by US Naval Forces Africa, Cutlass Express is 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.

“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.

“US 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.

Cutlass Express is one of three Africa-focused regional, “Express” series exercises sponsored by AFRICOM and facilitated by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/US 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.