Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe and the United States, as well as several international organizations, began the seventh iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express on January 28th ending on February 7th.
Cutlass Express 2018 (CE18), sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa, inform planning and operations.
CE18 tested participating nations’ ability to respond to illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and search and rescue situations. Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) of participating nations exercised tracking and reporting procedures of simulated suspect vessels.
Exercises took place in the vicinity of two operational hubs: Djibouti, Djibouti and Victoria, Seychelles.
This was the first international, overseas engagement on maritime security for Somali officers since 1991 and EUCAP Somalia supported the participation of the Somali Police Force (SPF) Mogadishu Maritime Police Unit (MPU) to CE18.
Eleven officers from the Somali MPU also participated in the exercises, mentored by EUCAP Somalia experts. .
On completion of the 11 day exercise, the Cutlass Express training team congratulated the MPU for their performance (despite limitations in terms of equipment and infrastructure), both on the planning and on an operational level. It was also noted that the Somali detachment was the only one that included a woman.