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Cutlass Express 2023 military exercise comes to successful end   |18 March 2023

Cutlass Express 2023 military exercise comes to successful end   

Participants and guests in a souvenir photograph

The Cutlass Express 2023 military exercise, which has been taking place in the country since March 6 for two weeks, came to a successful end yesterday with the presentation of certificates to the participants.

The certificate presentation ceremony and the official closing of the training exercise was held at the Seychelles Coast Guard auditorium, Ile Perseverance, in the presence of the chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Brigadier Michael Rosette; the director general operations of the Canadian Coast Guard, Mark Mes; chief of staff (SDF) Colonel Jean Atala; the United States (U.S) special advisor to Seychelles, James Danegan;  members of the Defence Forces Council and the directors of the country based Regional Coordination Operation Centre (RCOC) and National Information Sharing and Coordination Centre (NISCC), Sam Gonthier and Captain Gerard Wong Pool respectively, among other local and foreign military officers, instructors and guests.

This year the exercise was held in collaboration with the International Maritime Exercise which included 50 partnered nations and international organisations. Along with the Cutlass Express 2023, they form Africom’s largest naval training exercise in the Indian Ocean, bringing together the U.S forces and regional partners to share their expertise and experience.

To mark its 12th edition, the Cutlass Express 2023 field training exercise was held in Mauritius from March 6 to 17, 2023 where partnered nations assembled with the common goal to maintain the freedom of navigation, strengthen relationships with partner nations, enhance regional stability against malign actors and to build coaction and familiarity with maritime security to enable rapid formation of a coalition force to combat maritime threats.

With the main exercise held in Mauritius, a small delegation of Canadian Coast Guard and U.S Navy came in to conduct training with SDF personnel simultaneously in small boat operations, mission planning and Maritime Operation Centre (MOC) mentorship. After one week of classroom session, the training went into practical in the second week where with the help of the Seychelles Air Force, the participants engaged in simulation scenarios of rescue operation exercises involving a sunken five crew member fishing boat, and boarding and seizure of a vessel suspected of carrying illegal arms on the last day of the training (Thursday March 16) with the involvement of the police and Interpol for investigation purposes.

It was Commander Lindsay Draper from the U.S Maritme Forces who presented the certificates to the participants which was followed by exchange of mementos between the different forces – SDF, US and Canada.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Mes said that the Canadian Coast Guard is committed to continue its partnership with SDF and other foreign maritime forces, including with RCOC and NISCC.  

He noted that since the Canadian Coast Guard joined the Cutlass Express military exercise in 2019, the partnership and collaboration between them and partner countries continues to grow in a very practical and meaningful way, learning from one another.

“Maritime security is a global issue and the best way to deal with the security of our environment, the security and safety of waters, is through this inter agency of collaboration and cooperation,” said Mr Mes, who noted that maritime security is a shared global responsibility.

In his closing remarks, Brigadier Rosette thanked the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) and the US Naval Forces Africa (Navaf) for their continued sponsorship and support to ensure the success and continuity of the biggest multi-lateral exercise in the region.

He re-affirmed the SDF’s continued support to the success of the exercise and the strengthening of partnerships in the region.

“Our assets, personnel and infrastructure will be readily available in support of your objectives,” said Brigadier Rosette who noted that with the ever-changing security landscape, especially in the maritime domain, the bonds and contacts made will one day prove to be a useful asset, if we ever face real cross-border security scenarios.

Sponsored by the U.S. Africom and conducted by the US Navaf, the Cutlass Express, which is an exercise conducted in the Eastern African Coastal regions and Western Indian Ocean, is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information sharing between maritime operation centres, maritime interdiction, adherence to the rule of law, and counter-proliferation interdiction capabilities in order to disrupt illicit maritime activity and strengthen safety and security in the region.

One of the participants, second Lieutenant Jerome Philoe, operations officer SCG, said the training was very useful given that the participants learned more on how to handle security operations, on planned mission destined for smaller boats, compared to exercises in the past which were mostly targeted to security operation using bigger vessels.

“Now we can better plan our missions including our coxswains who are in a better position to handle any security operations at sea done in small boats,” second Lt Philoe said.


Patrick Joubert

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