In an effort to support East African and Indian Ocean nations in enhancing their maritime security responses and information sharing on common maritime threats, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) personnel recently participated in multinational maritime security exercise Cutlass Express 2015.
Commodore Keith Blount OBE Royal Navy, the Deputy Commander of CMF and UK’s Maritime Component Commander for the Middle East, said:
“Multinational exercises such as Cutlass Express strengthen regional maritime forces in their ability to conduct maritime security operations. They also foster trust between participant nations, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation. As we know very well in CMF, partnering strengthens the ability for regional nations to address challenges together in a way that no single nation can tackle alone. After all, a stable and secure maritime environment benefits all of us.”
Sponsored by United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), Exercise Cutlass Express 2015 was designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. Through cooperation, detection, and response, capabilities are enhanced, resulting in East African and Indian Ocean nations that are better prepared to deter illicit cargo traffickers and acts of piracy and terrorism, protect fisheries trade, and keep shipping lanes open.
This was the first time CMF has contributed to the AFRICOM multinational maritime security exercise, with staff from Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 and CTF-151 participating remotely from CMF headquarters in Bahrain, as well as Liaison Officers in regional Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) and Regional Coordination Centres in Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius.
John Stastny, the Cutlass Express MOC coordinator in Bahrain, said:
“The participation of CTF’s 150 and 151 was invaluable. Both the headquarters staff and Liaison Officers applied their extensive expertise in counter-piracy and counter-terrorism, significantly increasing the realism of the scenario.”
Complementing CMF capacity building efforts, naval boarding specialists from the US Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy were also deployed to Port Louis, Mauritius, to improve the skills and knowledge of participating naval and security forces’ in visit, boarding, search and seizures techniques.
These boarding specialists supported training and evaluation of Kenyan, Mauritian and Ugandan boarding teams, providing advice and guidance across common tasks, including identifying hazards, evaluating risk, decision making and boarding techniques. All the training scenarios included real-time evolutions, team building exercises and debrief sessions.
A 30 nation naval partnership, CMF counters piracy, illicit activity and terrorist networks in its area of responsibility, working with regional and other partners to improve security, strengthen regional nations’ maritime capabilities and, when requested, responds to environmental and humanitarian crises, including Safety of Life at Sea emergencies.