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Cutlass Express 19.2 comes to a close | 18 November 2019

Cutlass Express 19.2 comes to a close

Participants and guests in a souvenir photograph (Photo: Jude Morel)

Defence forces personnel from different military forces who underwent the Cutlas Express 19.2 exercise, sponsored by the United States Africa Command (Africom) and conducted by US Naval Forces Africa (Navaf), received their certificates in a brief closing ceremony held at the Seychelles Coast Guard facility, Perseverance, on Saturday morning.

The Cutlass Express 19.2 exercise, which commenced on November 4, is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional maritime security in East Africa.

The objective of the exercise is to improve regional cooperation, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), information sharing between Maritime Operation Centres (MOCs), responsiveness of maritime assets, use of rule of law, and counter-proliferation interdiction capabilities in order to disrupt illicit trafficking and counter piracy.

Over the course of the past two-and-a-half weeks, the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF), working alongside other foreign military forces, including Italy, Canada and the United States (US), were trained in boarding operations, search and rescue planning and execution, among others.

Commander Kirk of the US Navy, a main planner for the exercise, was first to address the personnel and invitees, in a brief speech in which he emphasised the importance of collaboration and having such exercise regularly.

“We are training the future leadership of our countries so we need to continue with this partnership. Cutlass Express requires us all to work as a team and we are all part of a team, from the very top to the very bottom so we need to continue this exercise and to continue expanding our team across the region,” he said.

Similarly, Rear Admiral (RDML) Nancy Lacor of Navaf echoed similar sentiments and highlighted the achievements over the course of the exercise, including the establishment of a Combined Maritime Operations Centre from the Regional Coordination Operation Centre as well as the successful and planning or operations to improve maritime safety in the region, in real time.

“With exceptional professionalism you have demonstrated that by working together, we have the capability to counter threats in a complex maritime environment, to share information regionally within the Maritime Domain, and to apply the rule of law in maritime security operations. Exercises like Cutlass Express build our military capacity and strengthen our proficiency to counter threats by increasing interoperability, and this year’s exercise tested our ability to perform in a complex operational environment in what was certainly the most robust Cutlass Express to date,” RDML Lacor stated.

Cutlass Express 19.2 included more than twenty nations operating from six sites around the Indian Ocean, from Djibouti to Mauritius, including in Seychelles. For the first time, the activity was also linked with the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s International Maritime Exercise.

Ambassador of the European Union Vincent Degert, who was present alongside ambassador of the US David Reimer, reaffirmed the EU’s long-standing commitment towards maritime security in the region, commending all the personnel and forces involved in the exercise.

Participants from the different forces were then presented with certificates. Certificates were handed out to the exercise planners, as well as participants from Seychelles, US and Canadian forces before they were invited to pose for a souvenir photograph.

To close the ceremony and mark the end of the exercise, Chief of Staff at the SPDF Michael Rosette thanked the foreign forces for choosing Seychelles as a centre for the exercise towards ensuring that officers are abreast of the latest developments in security, amid emerging threats such as human trafficking and trafficking of drugs.

“The exercise is continually improving and getting more and more realistic. We thank all our partners for such an initiative which has brought all of us together as a team for this exercise. For you participants, maintain and make use of the links established to ensure what was learnt through the exercise, eventually contributes to solving real-life issues when the need arises,” Chief of Staff Rosette stated.

He concluded by congratulating all SPDF personnel who have contributed towards the successful organisation and conduct of the exercise.

Chief of Staff Rosette also presented small tokens of appreciation to trainers and representatives of the other forces, on behalf of the SPDF.


Laura Pillay

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