Cutlass Express begins at end of month.
Seychelles to host US-led regional military exercise
By: Salifa Magnan and Betymie Bonnelame
Seychelles will host a regional military exercise coordinated by the U.S. Navy later this month.
The exercise, named Cutlass Express 2016, will take place January 30 to February 6 and will include forces from Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania, said Major Jean Attala from the Seychelles People Defence Forces, Monday.
The military exercise will deal with scenarios that include piracy, illegal trafficking and illegal fishing. Attala said a Dornier patrol aircraft from Mauritius and naval vessels from Madagascar and France will join the Seychelles Coast Guard in the exercise.
The Seychelles archipelago consists of 115 islands spread over an exclusive economic zone of 1.3 million square kilometers, making it difficult for enforcement authorities to spot unlawful activities.
In 2015, the Seychelles Fishing Authority intercepted eight vessels fishing without authorization. Pirate attacks by armed Somalis once plagued the vast Indian Ocean off of East Africa. But armed guards on board ships and international naval patrols have essentially cracked the pirate problem.
Seychelles vast maritime borders are also infiltrated by drug traffickers. The deputy chief of the Seychelles Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Liam Quinn, said that 103 kilograms of illegal substances were seized last year.
Cutlass Express will help military forces address those threats by increasing regional cooperation, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and information sharing. Participating forces will benefit with improvement in communications and inter-operability to counter piracy and maritime threats.
Last year Cutlass Express was held in Mauritius. Seychelles participated by sending 70 members from the Seychelles Coast Guard and Air Force.
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