The annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2019 has commenced near Djibouti, Mozambique and the Seychelles.

Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe and the US, as well as several international organisations are participating in the exercise.

The eighth iteration of the maritime exercise is sponsored by US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by US Naval Forces Africa.

The exercise is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security in East Africa.

Furthermore, it will enable the participating nations to cooperate in information sharing, planning and operating.

AFRICOM intelligence and knowledge development directorate director rear admiral Heidi Berg said: “Today, we face serious challenges at sea such as illegal fishing, trafficking of weapons, narcotics and people and the ongoing threat of piracy.

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By GlobalData
"Our efforts here will help make the region a safer place for maritime commerce and help increase prosperity throughout the region."

“Our efforts here will help make the region a safer place for maritime commerce and help increase prosperity throughout the region.”

Countries taking part in Cutlass Express 2019 include Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Portugal, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, the Netherlands and the US.

As part of the exercise, forces will focus on areas, such as combat illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, and search and rescue operations.

Berg added: “US Africa Command sponsored exercises like Cutlass Express are part of a wider effort the US undertakes with African partners to deter and defeat transnational threats and provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.”

The exercise is part of the Africa Partnership Station, which is the umbrella programme for the Express series of exercises.