Cutlass Express

Cutlass Express is a U.S. Naval Forces Africa led, all-domain exercise in East African coastal regions and the West Indian Ocean. The exercise is linked to U.S. Central Command’s International Maritime Exercise to counter malign influence, aggression, and activity along overlapping command seams and maritime regions.

Exercise Cutlass Express, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa and to increase interoperability between the U.S., African, and international partners.

Cutlass Express 19.2 is the second iteration of the large-scale, multinational maritime exercise taking place in the Western Indian Ocean. Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, North America, and several international organizations will conduct Cutlass Express 19.2 in the vicinity of Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles, for nearly 3 weeks in October and November 2019. CE 19.2 combines with U.S. Central Command’s International Maritime Exercise - with nearly 60 nations participating - to eliminate regional seams, increase U.S. and partner-nation interoperability and respond as a global maneuver force unbound by geographic boundaries.

The objective of CE is to train U.S. forces on visit, board, search, and seizure procedures, best practices, and interoperability with partner nations, while improving regional cooperation, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), information sharing between Maritime Operation Centers (MOCs), responsiveness of maritime assets, adherence to the rule of law, and counter-proliferation interdiction capabilities in order to disrupt illicit trafficking and piracy. Focused scenarios included the interdiction of illicit arms, drugs, money, natural resources, WMD material, and people that pose a threat to regional stability, to international partners, or that resource violent extremist organizations.

The underway portion tests boarding teams’ abilities to conduct maritime interdiction operations by boarding simulated suspect vessels, detecting illicit activity, and completing follow-on evidence collection procedures. Also being assessed is each MOC’s ability to utilize interagency legal procedures in order to achieve flag-state consent to board vessels from respective nations suspected of conducting illicit activity.

Cutlass Express demonstrates U.S. and partner nation commitment to regional stability and maritime security, with participating nations including Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, the United States, Kenya, Canada, Georgia, Greece, Egypt, Madagascar, Kingdom of Saudia Arabia, Senegal and Comoros. 

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