Close of the heels of the recent visit of external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar’s visit to Kenya, Indian Navy’s guided missile frigate INS Talwar is participating in a multinational maritime Exercise Cutlass Express 2021 (CE 21).
Maritime security is an important constituent of the India-Africa engagement. The drill is underway off the East Coast of Africa since July 26-Aug 6, is sponsored by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and is indicative of India’s intention to step up its engagement with the countries of the Western Indian Ocean region.
“This exercise is also linked to the US Central Command’s Maritime Exercise to ensure seamless regional maritime connectivity and interoperability amongst the maritime security forces in the region,” Commodore Anil Jai Singh, former submariner, Indian Navy tells Financial Express Online.
Who all is part of the multinational drill?
There are 12 Eastern African countries, US, UK, India and various international organisations.
Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, EurEuropean Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), and EUCAP Somalia. Indian Navy is participating in a ‘trainer role’.
The focus of Ex Cutlass Express 2021 is on East Africa’s coastal regions which is an integral part of the Indian Ocean littoral with the waters touching 10 countries in that continent. These countries are totally dependent on the Indian Ocean for their economic livelihood as well as sustenance.
Why? Because, according to reports almost 90 per cent of their trade moves over the waters and also their resource rich EEZ is in the Indian Ocean.