Exercise Cutlass Express is an exercise sponsored by US Africa Command (AFRICOM), and focuses on addressing piracy through information sharing and coordinated operations among international navies. Exercise Cutlass Express is yet another pillar that demonstrates US and participant-nation commitment to regional stability and maritime security, with participating nations including Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Seychelles, Uganda and the United States. Cultass Express, which began in 2011, was part of the larger Express Series exercises and was designed to advance East African maritime relationships and address mutual security issues, as well as test skills obtained from participating in bilateral and Africa Partnership Station initiative.
Cutlass Express 2011 took place at sea in the vicinity of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Mombasa, Kenya; and The Seychelles, with coordination among regional maritime operations centers. The USS Samuel B. Roberts provided an at-sea US warship platform participation while several Commander, US Naval Forces Europe and Africa/US 6th Fleet staff personnel also participated as exercise planners and trainers.
Cutlass Express 2012-2 (CE 12-2) began on 1 November 2012, starting with pre-sail conferences in Djibouti, Djibouti; Port Louis, Mauritius; and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The 2012 exercise, run between 1 and 8 November 2012, include both in-port and at-sea elements. During the in-port portion of training, combined maritime forces would conduct pier-side workshops focusing on maritime interdiction operations including visit, board, search and seizure boarding operations, as well medical and communications drills.
After in-port training is complete, the at-sea portion of CE12 would begin in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Vessels involved ranged from small out-board Defender boats to larger ships including HNLMS Rotterdam, flagship of NATO Task Force 508. At sea, ships and their personnel would work together with regional maritime operations centers during scenarios tailored to address counter-piracy, counter-narcotics, and illegal fishing. Countries participating in CE12-2 included Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, the Netherlands, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United States. CE12-2 was one of 4 regional Express Series exercises and put to test skills learned from previous Africa Partnership Station (APS) engagements. Earlier in 2012, APS events in East Africa were facilitated by high-speed vessel Swift with port visits to Mozambique, Tanzania and Djibouti as well as theater-security cooperation port visits to South Africa.
To improve information sharing and for the purpose of the exercise, an East Africa Standby Force boarding team, made of naval forces from Djibouti, Burundi, Comoros, Kenya, Seychelles, Sudan and Rwanda, was created for the maritime interdiction exercise that formed part of CE12-2. Throughout the exercise the Djibouti Navy's largest sea-going vessel, La Dague became the enemy force's simulated target vessel. The enemy was played by US sailors and Royal Netherlands Marines, who also worked together with the East African participants prior to the exercise. The maritime interdiction exercise included sailors from Djibouti, Burundi, Comoros, Kenya, Seychelles, Sudan, Rwanda and Uganda. Workshops were also held in Mauritius and Tanzania with their respective naval forces. Participants from the US Navy's Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command also assisted with the information sharing systems in the operations center. Within this center, Djibouti Navy Sailors maintained communications with their boarding teams, as well as operations centers in Tanzania and Mauritius.
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