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Cutlass Express ’15: US, Djibouti Building Partnerships
Piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime threats are rising around the world, presenting even more of a need for properly trained forces in Visit, Board, Search and Seizure procedures (VBSS) in the East African Nations.
Exercise leaders review exercise plans aboard the Djiboutian Naval target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 28, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
9 photos: Exercise Leaders review Exercise Plans aboard Djiboutian Naval Target Vessel
Photo 1 of 9: Exercise leaders review exercise plans aboard the Djiboutian Naval target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 28, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released) Download full-resolution version
The charting maps for the Gulf of Tadjoura showing the exercise area of operations are displayed during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
9 photos: Charting Maps for Gulf of Tadjoura showing Exercise Area of Operations
Photo 2 of 9: The charting maps for the Gulf of Tadjoura showing the exercise area of operations are displayed during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie) Download full-resolution version
A Djibouti coast guard member role-plays as a pirate during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
9 photos: Djibouti Coast Guard Member role-plays as Pirate during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015
Photo 3 of 9: A Djibouti coast guard member role-plays as a pirate during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released) Download full-resolution version
The Djiboutian navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team boards a simulated captured vessel, during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
9 photos: Djiboutian Navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Team boards Simulated Captured Vessel
Photo 4 of 9: The Djiboutian navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team boards a simulated captured vessel, during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie) Download full-resolution version
Djiboutian coast guard Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team members locate a role player hiding in the cabin of a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti,, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
9 photos: Djiboutian coast guard Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Team Members locate Role Player hiding in Cabin of Simulated Captured Vessel
Photo 5 of 9: Djiboutian coast guard Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team members locate a role player hiding in the cabin of a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti,, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie) Download full-resolution version
A Djibouti coast guard member holds his weapon at the ready, aboard a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
9 photos: Djibouti Coast Guard Member holds his Weapon at Ready, aboard Simulated Captured Vessel
Photo 6 of 9: A Djibouti coast guard member holds his weapon at the ready, aboard a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie) Download full-resolution version
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel approaches the target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
9 photos: Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard boarding Vessel approaches Target Vessel
Photo 7 of 9: The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel approaches the target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released) Download full-resolution version
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel begins the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative Support cell portion of  Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
9 photos: Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard Boarding Vessel begins Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Exercise
Photo 8 of 9: The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel begins the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative Support cell portion of Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released) Download full-resolution version
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel returns to port after completing the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise scenario during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
9 photos: Djibouti Navy and Coast Guard Boarding Vessel returns to Port after completing Visit, Board, Search and Seizure Exercise Scenario
Photo 9 of 9: The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel returns to port after completing the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise scenario during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released) Download full-resolution version
Exercise leaders review exercise plans aboard the Djiboutian Naval target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 28, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
The charting maps for the Gulf of Tadjoura showing the exercise area of operations are displayed during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
A Djibouti coast guard member role-plays as a pirate during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
The Djiboutian navy Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team boards a simulated captured vessel, during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
Djiboutian coast guard Visit, Board, Search and Seizure team members locate a role player hiding in the cabin of a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti,, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
A Djibouti coast guard member holds his weapon at the ready, aboard a simulated captured vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Jan. 31, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel approaches the target vessel during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel begins the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative Support cell portion of  Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)
The Djibouti navy and coast guard boarding vessel returns to port after completing the Visit, Board, Search and Seizure exercise scenario during Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in Djibouti, Feb. 2, 2015. Sponsored by U.S. Africa Command, Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie/Released)

Piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime threats are rising around the world, presenting even more of a need for properly trained forces in Visit, Board, Search and Seizure procedures (VBSS) in the East African Nations.

The U.S. and Djibouti navy and coast guard worked together and spent three days exercising VBSS techniques and tactics on the open seas for the final stage of Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 in the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, Jan. 31.

Exercise Cutlass Express ‘15 is an eight-day exercise, with the first part of the exercise being dedicated to classroom instruction where U.S. Navy leaders also instructed the Djibouti navy and coast guard on tactics, techniques and procedures.

Then last three days of the exercise are dedicated to VBSS teams at sea where scenarios are run to practice what they have learned in the classroom setting. Also, the watch standers and the maritime operations center learn to share information between themselves and the boarding teams.

“Cutlass Express is one of four express series exercises conducted in this region that is facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet,” said U.S. Navy Commander Pedro Lopez, Exercise Cutlass Express ‘15 operations commander. “The objectives pertain to maritime domain awareness, regional information sharing, and deployment of maritime assets to counter illicit activity.”

According to Lopez, training with partner nations is extremely valuable, for any maritime forces and this exercise allows regional partners to share information on tactics and procedures and to effectively make the waters in East Africa safer for everyone transiting through the Straight of Bab-el-Mandeb.

The exercise was sponsored and planned for the East African region by U.S. Africa Command with the support of Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa’s enduring presence in the region.

Lopez explained that with the support of U.S. AFRICOM and CJTF-HOA and their roles in planning and sponsoring Exercise Cutlass Express ’15, it allowed nations to come together in the operating areas of both Djibouti and Port Louis, Mauritius.

“Cutlass Express Exercise helps the Djiboutian navy and coast guard to enhance the capacity and capability, to improve maritime domain awareness and to secure sea line communications,” said Lt. Ali Elmi Bouh, Djibouti navy chief of operations. “Djiboutian Forces have benefited greatly from this exercise and have met goals that we want to achieve, and the biggest thing that we learn is the coordination and operation between agencies.”

Overall, the U.S. and Djiboutian forces completed a successful exercise, bringing together joint forces and building partnerships across East Africa.

“It allows all the nations to work together and share information that in itself brings trust and understanding on how the militaries work and, in essence, that brings secure waters that allow for increased sea-based economic output and international trade,” Lopez said.

Since 2011 the success of the exercise continues to gain in participation and complexity every year. Cutlass 2016 promises to further strengthen partnerships among maritime security forces.

“Cutlass Express ‘15 has been a successful exercise and I say thank you to my American partners and I say thank you to Navy Forces, but also; thank you to HOA, and to helping us improve and make this exercise better year after year,” Bouh concluded.

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