Exercise Cutlass Express 2021 (CE21) is being conducted from 26 July 2021 to 06 August 2021 along the East Coast of Africa. The exercise is an annual maritime exercise conducted to promote national and regional maritime security in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. The exercise also focusses on East Africa’s coastal regions and is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security and increase interoperability between the regional navies.
The 2021 edition of the exercise involves participation of 12 Eastern African countries, US, UK, India and various international organisations like International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, EurEuropean Union Naval Forc (EUNAVFOR), Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO) and EUCAP Somalia.
The previous iteration of the exercise, Cutlass Express 19.2, was the second iteration in 2019 taking place in the Western Indian Ocean. Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, North America, and several international organizations conducted Cutlass Express 19.2 in the vicinity of Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, and the Seychelles, for nearly 3 weeks in October and November. CE 19.2 combined with U.S. Central Command’s International Maritime Exercise – with nearly 60 nations participating – to eliminate regional seams, increase U.S. and partner-nation interoperability and respond as a global maneuver force unbound by geographic boundaries.
India to Participate
Indian Navy is participating in the exercise in a ‘trainer role’ and INS Talwar will be its medium. As part of the exercise, the Indian Navy, together with other partners, shall undertake training of contingents from various participating countries in various fields across the spectrum of maritime security operations.
Information sharing and information flow between various partner countries with respect to maritime domain awareness is also a key focus of the exercise and participation of India’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) would contribute in achieving the same.
As part of the exercise, the ship is visiting Mombasa, Kenya, wherein various other professional interactions are also planned with the Kenya Navy. The ship, during its stay at Mombasa, will also host a number of events to build stronger bridges of friendships with Kenya, Indian community and host of other partners in addition to the Cutlass Express participants.
India’s commitment to the countries along East Coast of Africa and the Western IOR is further going to be strengthened with the visit of INS Talwar and is in keeping with India’s stated policy towards maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region and vision SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).