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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2024

Exercise Cutlass Express 2024 kicks off in East Africa

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Public Affairs

In opening ceremonies in Djibouti and the Seychelles, 14 nations and multiple international organizations marked the start of the East African maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2024, Feb. 25-26, 2024.

Cutlass Express, one of three African regional “Express” series exercises sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF) and U.S. Sixth Fleet, brings together regional and international Allies and partners for two weeks of training throughout East Arica and the Western Indian Ocean.

“This exercise shows our mutual and unwavering commitment to ensuring maritime safety and security in the region,” said Brigadier Michael Rosette, Chief of Defense Forces of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF). “It is through such initiatives and interactions that we continue to improve our interoperability and build stronger ties with all our friendly partners in the region.”

The exercise will increase the readiness of Allied and partner forces; enhance maritime domain awareness (MDA) and collaboration among participating nations; demonstrate the capability of African partners to combat piracy and counter illicit trafficking; and secure the maritime domain.

Throughout the next two weeks, participants will test their skill and collaboration through a variety of exercise and real world scenarios. Some of these events include visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) and maritime interdiction training, counter-illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing procedures, Women, Peace and Security (WPS) initiatives, Maritime Operations Center (MOC) integration, SeaVision and maritime domain awareness operations, and bilateral and multilateral diving events.

These events will take place primarily in Djibouti, Kenya, and the Seychelles, as well as the waters of East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. Conducting simultaneous events across multiple countries provides a diverse and impactful series of opportunities to enhance training and coordination throughout the region, and are a hallmark of the Express series. Exercise participants will also leverage collaborative institutions like Seychelles’ Regional Coordination Operations Centre to continue to increase the pace and scale of regional maritime cooperation.

Cutlass Express 24 will also run concurrently with the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa-led exercise Justified Accord 2024. Through integration of training events, participating nations will improve defense capabilities of multi-domain forces and refine crisis and counterterrorism responses, ultimately reducing global maritime threats. Linkages between exercises also reduce interservice seams and increase U.S. global capabilities and interoperability.

Nations scheduled to participate in the exercise include Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. International organizations taking part include the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL and the Indian Ocean Commission.

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.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) 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 USEUCOM and 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.

For more information on Cutlass Express, visit,, &