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Special forces security training begins in Mombasa

By Philip Mwakio | July 28th 2021

2021 edition involves the participation of 12 Eastern African countries, the US, UK, India and various international organisations. [Twitter, Indian Navy]

The Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) is among 13 national armies taking part in annual training by US Naval Forces Africa that seeks to promote maritime security in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean.

Other countries participating in the exercise christened Cutlass Express (CE) that was launched at Mombasa's Bandari Maritime Academy yesterday are the United Kingdom, India, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Somali, Rwanda, Georgia and Djibouti.

The exercise includes in-port training, leadership symposium and at-sea scenarios to be done in the Indian Ocean's territorial waters of Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar and Seychelles. 

Commander United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Gen Stephen Townsend (seated left) officiated the opening ceremony. [KDF]

A statement from the Ministry of Defence indicated that Commander United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Gen Stephen Townsend officiated the opening ceremony of the training in Mombasa.

During the exercise, the participating ships will be put through their paces to evaluate their capability to carry out maritime security operations.

This will see boarding teams take on simulated suspect vessels, identify illicit activity and evidence collection procedures.

"It is aimed at promoting national and regional maritime security in East Africa and West Indian Ocean region, which is a true reflection of the continued cooperation and fostering military bond," the statement said.

Gen Stephen Townsend. [KDF]

The Defence Ministry said the training will incorporate Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) procedures.

The training focus of the Kenyan VBSS chapter will be on illegal drugs, illegal fishing, trafficking of wildlife and human trafficking.

General Townsend pointed out persistent challenges that continue to threaten maritime security in the region.

“Pirate groups, arms smugglers, drugs, human traffickers and illegal fishing all spread crime, fear, suffering and wreak havoc on communities and natural environments alike. If we do not work together, we cannot disrupt these groups but when we share our knowledge and coordinate our efforts, criminal and violent actors will soon find they have nowhere to turn,” said Townsend.

Indian navy vessel at the port of Mombasa. [Twitter, Indian Navy]

The Commander of Kenya Navy Base in Mtongwe, Brigadier Thomas Ng’ang’a, stressed the importance of training, noting it would form the foundation of any security or defense force.

Indian High Commissioner to Kenya India, Ashish Sinha, who also graced the occasion, emphasised the importance of stability and security in the high seas as a pre-condition to tap the vast potential of the blue economy.

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