Africa Defense Forum
ADF is a professional military magazine published quarterly by U.S. Africa Command to provide an international forum for African security professionals. ADF covers topics such as counter terrorism strategies, security and defense operations, transnational crime, and all other issues affecting peace, stability, and good governance on the African continent.

Cutlass Express Kicks Off in East Africa


Members of the Seychelles People’s Defence Force Tazar Special Forces boarded a ship, single file, with their guns drawn.

“So, now we have the two security guys come up,” a U.S. Coast Guard instructor said. “Right here, this door here is called the ‘fatal front.’”

A Tazar member entered the door carefully and swept his gun to the right.

“All clear? All right,” said the instructor, as more Tazar members entered the ship’s cabin.

It was the first week of Cutlass Express 2022, an annual 12-day exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and the Seychellois forces were engaged in a simulated visit, board, search and seizure exercise.

Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime contributed to the training, which began February 6 in Djibouti and included exercises in Kenya and the Seychelles.


Other participating nations included Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and the United Kingdom.

“Coming together to coordinate our capabilities throughout the maritime domain not only breeds regional security and stability,” said Capt. David Family, commanding officer at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. “It gives us a chance to deepen our partnerships and cultivate new ones moving forward.”

The exercise was timely. Participating nations recently adopted the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which provided a framework to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean. The amendment calls on the 14 signatory states to cooperate to combat transnational organized maritime crimes, including illicit trafficking, piracy and illegal fishing, as well as on search and rescue missions.

Throughout the exercise, participants were trained on tactical combat casualty care, marksmanship, at-sea maneuvers and close-combat techniques.

U.S. Marines, assigned to Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Company, Central, trained the Kenyan Marine Forces (KMF) on boarding procedures, water survival, ladder climbing, detainee handling and crew control. The training also was meant to help the KMF, which was created in 2018, to develop a playbook for handling maritime crimes.

“Our main goal is to make sure there is security along the coastline,” Kenyan Marine Lt. Joseph Lekakwar said. “I really found the visit, board, search and seizure beneficial and hope we do this again. It really keeps our skills sharp, and it will go a long way.”

Tanzania Navy Cmdr. Francis Kahoko and Seychelles Special Forces Pvt. Hakeem Camille said it was beneficial to work alongside their allies throughout the exercise.

“I like working with partner nations so that we can share experiences and learn from one another,” Camille said.

During the event’s opening ceremony, Col. Wais Omar Borgoreh, commander of the Djiboutian Coast Guard, said it is imperative to continue improving regional security amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the official force of the Djiboutian Coast Guard and Djiboutian Navy will participate in the exercise, not only in Djibouti, but also in Kenya,” Borgoreh said. “With continued support of AFRICOM, Cutlass Express is a showcase that demonstrates the cooperation and coordination for maritime safety and security.”

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