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NEWS | March 12, 2023

U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Band Kicks off Cutlass Express 2023 at CLDJ

By Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti Public Affairs

Deployed U.S. military members and multinational partners from Japan, Italy, France, and Spain, enjoyed a night of music and fun as partners and friends at Camp Lemonnier’s recreation hall, March 5. 

The performance by the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Band’s “Flagship” rock band and brass quintet for CLDJ leadership and partner nations concluded the band’s tour of Djibouti as part of exercise Cutlass Express 2023 (CE23). 

“This is the first naval band to come to camp during my tenure here,” said Sadie Tucker, foreign policy advisor, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. “It’s a wonderful event to invite our foreign partners to, it allows us to spend time together outside of work.”

The band performed across venues of Djibouti City from March 5-9 as a part of CE23 which takes place from March 5-17 in the Western Indian Ocean. 

“It’s our mission to brighten sailors’ days, strengthen alliances and advance interoperability through music,” said U.S. Navy Ens. Matt Stuver, assistant director for the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) Band. “This week we get to play side-by-side with the local Djiboutian musicians, and strengthen that bond with partners and allies.”

While the band orchestrates and harmonizes with local artists and students in Djibouti, 14 participating nations will promote national and regional security by synchronizing their movements on and off the water as part of CE23.  

While CE23 is a maritime exercise including both the U.S. Navy and Coast Guards, it is the first time the members of the U.S Coast Guard band joined the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa band.

“There is a heavy Coast Guard presence in this exercise. We are very excited to take part in it and join our fellow Coast Guardsmen participating in the exercise,” said U.S Coast Guard Musician Master Sgt. Brian Nichols, who will be performing with the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Band brass quintet during CE23. “We look forward to the engagements in the next few days and being able to interact with the children who may be the next future leaders of Djibouti.”

As a way to help build relationships through the international language of music, the band hosted six workshops and performances with local musicians at schools around Djibouti. 

“We are happy to have the band play here at Camp Lemonnier for deployed service members and our partners, and the large concert series across Djibouti will work to enrich the enduring relationship between U.S. service members at Camp Lemonnier and Djiboutians,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Brian R. Iber, CLDJ commanding officer. 

For 20 years, Camp Lemonnier has forged relationships with allies and partners building a foundation of shared values, experiences, and vision aimed at preserving security and stability in Djibouti.

The 14 nations scheduled to participate in CE23 include Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, Georgia, Greece, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The U.S. shares a common interest with African partner nations in ensuring security, safety, and freedom of navigation on the waters surrounding the continent, because these waters are critical for Africa’s prosperity and access to global markets.

AFRICOM, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is one of 11 U.S. Department of Defense combatant commands, each with a geographic or functional mission that provides command and control of military forces in peace and war. AFRICOM employs the broad-reaching diplomacy, development, and defense approach to foster interagency efforts and help negate the drivers of conflict and extremism in Africa.

For more than 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.