Daniel Wasserbly, Washington, DC¬†- IHS Jane’s International Defence Review
Exercise ‘Cutlass Express 2013’, a large multinational maritime training event in East Africa waters, concluded on 18 November during a ceremony at the Seychelles Coast Guard Base in Victoria, Seychelles.
The week-long exercise, the third in three years, was conducted from naval hubs in Mombasa, Kenya; Djibouti (city), Djibouti; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Port Victoria, Seychelles.
Participants worked to improve tactical skills for a variety of missions germane to the region – including counter-piracy, counter-trafficking, and illegal fishing – by training in maritime boarding, medical response, radio communication, and information sharing across regional maritime operations centres, according to US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, the shared naval component of US Africa Command (AFRICOM).
‘Cutlass Express 2013’ saw participation from Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Comoros, Yemen, the Netherlands, and Denmark, as well as representatives from NATO, the EU Naval Force, and US members of the Eastern Africa Standby Force.
Troops involved in the event executed “tactics and techniques within scenarios that mirror real-world counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations, as well as actions taken to deter illegal fishing”, US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said in a statement.
More broadly, it focused on regional co-operation in the maritime domain by training to improve information sharing, and general communications and interoperability.
“The exercise serves to demonstrate and test skills that are developed as part of Africa Partnership Station and ongoing efforts to increase maritime domain awareness,” added the US naval component, which is part of the US 6th fleet and the organiser of three other ‘Express’ series of exercises around Africa.
Africa Partnership Station was established in 2007 by AFRICOM as an international security co-operation initiative that works to bolster maritime collaboration by hosting a variety of training and capacity building efforts.
US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and the US 6th Fleet’s four Africa-focused regional ‘Express’ series represent a key naval component within AFRICOM’s wider efforts to build capacity within the continent for better handling local security concerns before they spiral into more serious crises.