Naval personnel from East Africa, Europe, West Indian Ocean nations and the US, as well as various international organisations, have commenced the sixth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express.
The exercise is supported by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), and is designed to both assess and boost maritime law-enforcement capacities, promote national and regional security in East Africa, and inform planning and operations.
Cutlass Express 2017 (CE17) will be conducted by the US Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) in the area surrounding two operational hubs, Djibouti and Port Louis.
The nine-day exercise will involve an in-port preparatory phase in addition to three days of underway drills.
Participating nations will develop their capabilities regarding scenarios promoted by the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), in order to detect and disrupt the potential supply of materials intended to be assembled into weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The CE17 exercise forms part of a broad strategy by the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa / US 6th Fleet (CNE-CAN / C6F), and uses the Djibouti Code of Conduct as a framework for practising information-sharing traditions and imposing international law of the sea.
The exercise falls under the Africa Partnership Station, the umbrella programme for the Express-series exercises and other capacity-building initiatives across Africa.
Nations taking part in CE17 help bolster the development of national maritime strategies, as well as the development of operational concepts and capabilities to operationalise maritime strategy.
The CE17 exercise also features a four-day senior leaders' seminar to be conducted by the US Naval War College (NWC).
The fifth iteration of the Cutlass Express exercise was conducted in January last year.