Continental Focus, International Reach

Joint Africom Military Exercise Concludes

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, and the United States concluded the eighth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2019 (CE19) on February 7.The Cutlass Express is an exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), and conducted by Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) to assess and improve maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in eastern Africa, inform planning and operations, and shape security force assistance (SFA) efforts.

The nine-day exercise, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, kicked off in Djibouti Jan. 28 and included an in-port preparatory phase, four days of pier side and underway visit, board, search and seizure drills, as well as various workshops in Mozambique and Djibouti.

“The training has proven valuable and we are seeing results in the Indian Ocean with counter-piracy and a reduction in illegal fishing,” said Cmdr. Kirk Schneringer, assistant director of Cutlass Express. “Working together with our partner nations is helping to form personal relationships that will extend well beyond this exercise.”

Cmdr. Kunal Bharadwaj, commanding officer of the Mauritius Kora-class Corvette CGS Barracuda, said that using foreign ships as a proving ground for boarding teams has more to do with camaraderie than providing unique drill conditions.

“Cutlass Express is a good platform because it meets multiple requirements,” said Bharadwaj. “Training is, of course, the most important requirement, but it also builds up the camaraderie between the nations that are present in this area. This exercise provides a good platform for interacting with other countries in this region, and this will pave the way for what we’d like to achieve in the future where we’re carrying out operations in conjunction with other countries in the area.”

The participating nations successfully tested their ability to identify and properly address 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.

Participating nations in Cutlass Express 2019 included 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 U.S. 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.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, oversees joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to enable enduring relationships and increase vigilance and resilience in Europe and Africa.