The Somali Police Force (SPF) Mogadishu Maritime Police Unit (MPU) and the Bosaso Port MPU successfully participated in the Cutlass Express 2021 (CE21) exercise in Djibouti from 26 July to 6 August. EUCAP Somalia’s maritime advisors supported and mentored the Somali participants throughout the preparation and execution of the exercise.
Cutlass Express is sponsored by the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by US Naval Forces Africa in the vicinity of Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, and Seychelles. The exercise aims to assess and improve maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in Eastern Africa.
The SPF-MPU has been participating in the Cutlass Express exercise since 2018, with support from EUCAP Somalia. The officers from Bosaso have joined the simulation for the second time. Thirteen nations participated in the maritime drill, including Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Thirty Somali officers, including one woman, took part in the CE21.
The exercise started with in-port training followed by at-sea scenarios, aimed to test the ability of participating nations to detect illicit activities and conduct maritime interdiction operations.
The various scenarios were designed to improve vessel boarding, search and seizure tactics, and interaction with Maritime Operation Centres. The web-based information-sharing platforms IORIS and SeaVision were used to exchange data and enhance maritime domain awareness.
In July, in preparation for the CE21, EUCAP Somalia, supported by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), organized a Force Integration Training (FIT) for SPF-MPU and the Bosaso Port MPU to align their capabilities before the annual multinational maritime exercise in Djibouti.
The FIT took place in Mogadishu using the SPF-MPU assets, particularly the law enforcement training facility called ‘Ship-In-A-Box’ (SIAB) donated by EUCAP Somalia two years ago. SIAB is an on-shore structure imitating a bridge of a merchant’s vessel. It allows the Somali law enforcement agencies to train on boarding procedures in order to conduct inspections aboard merchant ships.
EUCAP Somalia will continue to support the participation of Somali maritime law enforcement units in the international maritime exercise. Preparations for Cutlass Express 2022 are already ongoing, and the Main Planning Conference was held from 16 – 19 August in Bahrain, with the participation of EUCAP Somalia’s Coast Guard advisor.