Cutlass Express 2016 Commences

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Maritime forces from various nations attend the opening ceremony for Cutlass Express 2016 Jan. 30. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mat Murch

Maritime forces from Eastern Africa, Western Indian Ocean island nations, Europe and the United States, as well as several international organizations began the fifth iteration of the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express, Jan. 30.

Cutlass Express 2016, 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 participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

PORT VICTORIA, Seychelles (NNS) -- Maritime forces from Eastern Africa, Western Indian Ocean island nations, Europe and the United States, as well as several international organizations began the fifth iteration of the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express, Jan. 30.

Cutlass Express 2016, 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 participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

Cutlass Express scenarios will test watchstanders' ability to respond to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and search and rescue situations. Scenarios will take place in the vicinity of two operational hubs: Djibouti and Port Victoria.

The exercise, which is scheduled to last eight days, will include an in-port preparatory phase and three days of underway drills.Maritime Operations Centers (MOCs) of participating nations will exercise tracking and reporting procedures of simulating suspect vessels.

The exercise leverages The Djibouti Code of Conduct, which 20 nations are signatory to, as a framework for exercising information sharing practices and enforcing international law of the 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).
Quotes:

Vice Adm. James Foggo III, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet stated, "Cutlass Express is another great example of the global network of navies. During this exercise, partner nations will come together and increase maritime security, which benefits everyone."

"Security of commerce, protection of maritime economic assets, and the prevention of piracy and illicit trafficking is a critical mission that directly affects all maritime nations. The Republic of Seychelles archipelago is the ideal location for this training; water conditions, weather, and its location along a pivotal trade route combine to ensure we are training here ... how, when, and where it matters,"" commented Capt. Tate Westbrook, deputy commodore of Task Force 65/Destroyer Squadron 60; tactical commander, Cutlass Express.

Exercise Cutlass Express is one of three Africa-focused regional "Express" series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F). The exercise falls under Africa Partnership Station, the umbrella program for the Express series exercises and other capacity-building initiatives throughout Africa.

Participating nations in Cutlass Express 2016 include Australia, Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, EU Naval Force, International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Combined Task Force 150.

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.
 

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