The 2021 version of the training was officially launched on July 26, 2021, by Rear Admiral Jeffrey SPIVEY, who is the Marine Partnership Programme officer for the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Sixth Fleet during a ceremony at the Seychelles Defence Academy (SDA).
Rear Admiral SPIVEY noted that since its inception in 2011, the Cutlass Express has been built on a shared commitment and belief in the importance of maritime cooperation.
CE21 is designed to improve regional cooperation in support of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, maritime domain awareness, information sharing between maritime operation centers, maritime interdiction, adherence to the rule of law, and counter-proliferation interdiction capabilities in order to disrupt illicit maritime activity and strengthen safety and security in East Africa.
The 13 participating nations include Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, UK, and the US.
The previous iteration of the exercise, Cutlass Express 19.2, was the second iteration in 2019 taking place in the Western Indian Ocean.
The US coordinates the initiative but no US Navy naval units will take part in the exercises.
The purpose of the exercise is to increase the capacity of individual naval forces in combating the main forms of maritime crime widespread in the western Indian Ocean, and in particular piracy, illicit trafficking and poaching.
After the training cycle it will be organized an international conference, dedicated on this occasion to leadership at the command level.
The exercise, from the perspective of the US, also has a strong anti-Chinese character. China was accused by US that indirectly fueling many of the illicit activities conducted in the region.
The US Navy wants to strengthen cooperation with all countries in the area potentially interested or already engaged in military cooperation activities with the Chinese Navy, which has its own base in the port of Djibouti. The Chinese base from Djibouti was recently expanded and now capable of to be able to provide logistical assistance to aircraft carriers as well.
This article was edited using the data from the Africom.mil, Naval-technology.com, Navy.mil, Nation.sc, Currentaffairs.bankexamstoday.com, Meridiano42.it and Economictimes.indiatimes.com.