Recently, Indian Naval Ship Talwar participated in a multinational training exercise Cutlass Express 2021, being conducted along the East Coast of Africa.

Important points:

  • The exercise is an annual maritime exercise conducted to promote national and regional maritime security in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean.
  • The 2021 edition of the exercise involves participation of 12 Eastern African countries, US, UK, India and various international organisations like International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO).
  • The exercise is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security and increase interoperability between the regional navies.
  • India’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) is also participating in the exercise.
  • India’s participation is in accordance with India’s stated policy towards maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region and vision SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).

Significance :

  • The Western Indian Ocean is where the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea meet. It connects North America, Europe and Asia, and as such is of global strategic importance.
  • The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region comprises 10 countries: Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, and the French overseas territory of Réunion.
  • Its rich natural resource profile has pushed global players to view the region with increasing interest in recent years.
  • India’s compulsions for energy security and its dependence on overseas resources has been the biggest pull drawing it closer to the region.

Nature of Inter-regional Cooperation in WIO region:

  • Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security (MASE): The MASE Programme was adopted in 2010 in Mauritius, and is jointly run by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
  • The programme’s primary objective is to strengthen the maritime security capacity of Eastern and Southern Africa and the WIO region in order to implement the Regional Strategy and Action Plan against Piracy.
  • Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) is a part of it.
  • It provides a framework for capacity building in the WIO region and Gulf of Aden in order to counter the threat of piracy.
  • This is the first such code to be operational in the Western Indian Ocean waters. The code was signed in January 2009.
  • It was made in 2017 to cover other illicit maritime activities, including human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to build national and regional capacity to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.
  • India has joined the Djibouti Code/Jeddah amendment.


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