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French, Seychellois militaries in joint training exercise centred on illicit drug fight

Victoria, Seychelles | November 23, 2018, Friday @ 10:08 in National » GENERAL | By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3827
French, Seychellois militaries in joint training exercise centred on illicit drug fight

One of the parachute jumps took place at Beau Vallon in the north of Mahe. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles and the French military from Nov. 19-23 are carrying out a military exercise centred on the fight against trafficking illicit drugs, a military spokesperson said.

Around 125 military personnel from the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) and the French armed forces based in the south of the Indian Ocean are participating in the 2018 ‘Cateau Noir’ exercise.

Major Jude Raoul from SPDF told SNA on Tuesday that there are many scenarios that the military forces can focus on just by looking at the Seychelles’ geographical location.

“With Seychelles being surrounded by water, we deal with a lot of piracy, illegal fishing, smuggling as well are narco-trafficking. This year, the scenario will be based around narco-trafficking,” said Raoul.

The exercise will feature a series of parachute jumps by the French army. These will take place at Bel Ombre, Beau Vallon and Perseverance, with the main jump and part of the exercise culminating at Roche Caiman during the early hours of November 22. 

This year's exercise featured a series of parachute jumps by the French army at Bel Ombre, Beau Vallon and Perseverance. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY          

In the made-up scenario, Mahe -- Seychelles' main island -- is known as the hub of heroin trafficking and two drug cartel leaders are currently on the island. Following an international arrest warrant issued by Interpol, the two forces are working together to dismantle this network of drug traffickers.

Other activities during the exercise will include surveillance from the air, sea and land as well as commando exercises. A French military aircraft, as well as a Seychelles Coast Guard vessel and a Dornier aircraft, will be involved.

Information gathered by each surveillance team will be transferred to the command post, located at the navy base, and will later be relayed to the Seychelles’ special forces ‘ TAZAR’ for action.

Coordinated every two years, ‘Cateau Noir’ was originally organised on Seychelles' second-biggest island, Praslin, hence named after the black parrot -- an endemic bird found only on Praslin. Due to the high expenses associated with moving a large group of personnel to another island, the exercise is now organised in different locations on Mahe.

Each time the exercise is done, a minimum of 50 military officials from Seychelles benefit from the make-believe scenarios. Since 2011, over 1,000 Seychellois military personnel have benefited through such cooperation. 

Soldiers in Seychelles get expertise and experience from the exercise. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    

“Apart from the soldiers receiving expertise and experience during the exercise, it is an opportunity for us to deepen the existing relationship that we have with FAZSOI (Forces armées de la zone sud de l'océan Indien). Within the Indian Ocean region, we hold around three to four exercises each year,” said Raoul. 

He explained that such exercises help strengthen the relationship that exists between Seychelles and other regional island nations.

“As we need to assist each other, we need to understand each other’s tactics. At the same time, we are a small force whereas the force on Reunion is much bigger hence they are more up to date with developments that are taking place. When we get the chance to do such exercise, we can see in which direction each force is going,” said Raoul.

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Tags: Seychelles People’s Defence Forces, Cateau Noir

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