Maritime forces from 15 East African, European, North America and West Indian Ocean nations joined several international organizations in celebrating the successful conclusion of multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2021 (CE 21), Aug. 6, 2021.
Rear Adm. Jeffrey Spivey, Vice Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet (C6F) and Director, Maritime Partnership Program, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (CNE-CNA), spoke about the exercise and its aim to increase maritime cooperation.
“Cutlass Express represents a shared commitment by East Africa and West Indian Ocean nations which has grown in significance and importance for maritime cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean and East Africa,” said Spivey. “Our key purpose is to enhance the information exchange and regional information-sharing with our maritime partners and to improve our collective effectiveness at sea and address our primary challenges.”
CE 21, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and led by NAVEUR-NAVAF-U.S. Sixth Fleet, is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity; promote national and regional security in East Africa; and increase interoperability between the U.S., African nations, and international partners.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to highlight the combined efforts of the 15 East African and West Indian Ocean and European and North American nations participating in the 10th iteration of U.S. Africa Command combined exercise Cutlass Express 2021,” said Spivey. “This exercise is the most significant maritime exercise held in East Africa and the Indian – Western Indian Ocean this year and is a building block for the international maritime exercise scheduled in 2022.”
The exercise ran 14 days within the vicinity of Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles. Events included in-port preparatory phases and three days of at-sea scenarios designed to improve the proficiency of boarding teams and operators in the Maritime Operations Centers. Exercises like CE 21 provide an opportunity for partner nations to work side-by-side in rehearsals of potential real-world scenarios.
“Throughout Cutlass Express 2021, we have witnessed firsthand the participating nations’ improvement in the maritime domain awareness, with IORIS and SeaVision information sharing platforms providing invaluable and complementary understanding of the maritime common operating picture,” said Capt. Cannon Neslen, Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Africa, Maritime Partnership Program, U.S. Navy Reserve Detachment 118. “This has been critical as well to see that information being shared to all of the partner nations that are participating in the Djibouti Code of Conduct as well as in Cutlass Express 2021.”
CE 21, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and led by NAVEUR-NAVAF-U.S. Sixth Fleet (C6F), is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity; promote national and regional security in East Africa; and increase interoperability between the U.S., African nations, and international partners. It is one of three NAVEUR-NAVAF /C6F-facilitated regional exercises undertaken to provide African forces and international partners with collaborative opportunities on comprehensive maritime security concerns.
“We have learned a lot here. The Cutlass Express 2021 schedule has been very dynamic due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Neslen. “We have been compliant with all COVID-19 health and safety protocols. We look forward to the ongoing coordination and information sharing as we prepare for Cutlass Express 2022, which is about six months from now.”
Participating nations in Cutlass Express include Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, Georgia, India, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the United States.
NAVEUR-NAVAF/C6F, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.