Defense Roles and Missions

Wednesday, April 13, the President asked for a new roles and missions analysis, with the intention of saving $400B from “security spending,” over the next twelve years.  Reportedly this will include the departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Energy, as well as DOD.

A little surprising to me this will include DHS and by extension the Coast Guard. The first thing that comes to mind of course is cuts, but that isn’t the only way things could go. There could also be some reassignment of responsibility, that result in over all savings, but leave one or more service or agency stronger than before. Of course it could also mean moving the Coast Guard into the Navy Department could be looked at again.

Will The Coast Guard stop operating larger ships and simply put boarding teams on Navy ships? or will the Coast Coast Guard be seen as a Naval asset that with a little augmentation could take over some of the Navy’s roles? Or will the CG simply be ignored?

What should the Coast Guard’s “security” roles be? For counter terrorism? For wartime? What “core competencies” does the Coast Guard need to maintain? Could this effect other missions as well?

45 thoughts on “Defense Roles and Missions

  1. Instead of giving Custom and Borders money for its own boats give that money to the Coast Guard. I don’t think really any other federal service needs boats for LE when we cover that task already.

    Let’s see where else can we cut… How about the LCS? Give us the money and when the navy needs us where here like always we have always done the littoral combat work for the Navy. Custom and Borders in general is a waste of money. Mostly because they act like a bucket under a waterfall. You need to stop the waterfall well before it gets to the bucket.

    I would love to see much of the intelligence get combined and eliminate the excess dedunancy

    • I think the littoral operations should be handed over to the US Coast Guard. We should cut the Custom and Borders Maritime fleet and hand it over to the US Coast Guard. I think we have way too many federal services doing LE work when we can unify all the maritime LE service to the US Coast Guard and let the US Coast Guard be the Lead Federal LE for the Maritime service.

      Also, turn the LCS over to the US Coast Guard and cut the LCS money from the US Navy. Give the LCS money over the the US Coast Guard and let the US Coast Guard run Littoral operations. Basically let the US Coast Guard have a Navalized LCS for Littoral operations.

      I would like to see the US Coast Guard fall under the DoD with a department under the US Navy in the same way as they do for the USMC for funding and management.

  2. If the Administration intends to cut as it has to, an examination of all government agencies is required.
    When we examine agencies and their responsibilities we must also look at what agencies are flexible and adaptable, and have the ability to “accomplish the mission real time”. Within the DHS all maritime law enforcement responsibilities should be turned over to the Coast Guard as their responsibility is clear under Title 14 USC. I interpret this to mean that all DHS funding should go directly to the Coast Guard. That would mean City’s like NY would not get 5 million dollars to purchase a “surface combat vessel” that should go to the Coast Guard.
    Regarding defense, the littorals have always been the domain of the Coast Guard. They should remain in a primary role in that defense mission. Historically we only have to look back to the Atlantic/ Pacific Amphibious invasions, Operation Market Time in Vietnam, and the current operations in the NAG regarding the interception of suspicious dhows transporting contraban. The Coast Guard on a daily basis intercepts and searches more vessels than any Navy VSSB Unit does. Here again what makes the Coast Guard unique is the skills they use in the law enforcement domain have direct relvancy in the defense domain as well. Littoral money should be redirected to the Coast Guard, and personnel to accomplish these responsibilities should be increased. That would mean that personnel in the CBP marine units would be eliminated. In the Coast Guard you have a well disciplined team of personnel who can rapidly deploy
    and respond to all types of emergencies. The size of the Coast Guard should be incrementally increasing over the next decade to meet all its obligations.

    • The main issue with setting the USCG up as the only federal maritime law enforcement agency is the fact that, despite its congressional mandate and allotted resources, the service’s enforcement program isn’t up to par with other federal agencies. USCG involvement in a criminal case implies that it will be passed from agency to agency until someone outside of the USCG ends the process by agreeing to make the arrest. For civil cases, their administrative penalty process is sporadically applied and monitored by district PROCENs with seemingly no interest in supporting work done on the water. Unless the process is rolled into a program that makes use of the central violations bureau and district courts there will never be legitimacy. In addition to these deficiencies, its important to note that CBP needs boats because USCG officers, despite customs authority provided by Title 14, are faced with intense internal controls that restrict them from applying it at the scene without higher authority. Federal maritime law enforcement left entirely to the USCG would be a lackluster effort in its current state. Without a shift in thinking and priorities by agency leadership, a move to the district courts, and a more robust training program, it will be just another federal program lacking substance.

  3. Roles and Missions Studies have come and gone without much impact. I’m not sure many people read them.
    Unless there is more imagination used in the proposed studies than has been used in the past, it will sit on the shelf only to be used by future historians who will remark, as those few in the past, how nothing was derived from them.

    These sorts of studies seem to be just more staff busy work.

    • Just like the Fleet Mix Analysis study of a year and a half ago which has been sat on because it was embarrassing to the Coast Guard in that it showed the Deepwater Program of Record had too few cutters for what i actually needed.

      But then it is understandable that the Coast Guard leadership would want to keep a lid on their own study after just a few years back they naively fell for the ICGS contractor argument that “technology is a force multiplier”, thus the service would need less cutters because of all the great C4I gear which would be put on the new NSCs. That C4I gear, of course, is now being purchased from those very same contractors…

    • While you may be correct that R & M studies end up on the coffee table as an ornament, that is more due to the lack of leadership as the staff work that went into it. In order to justify fleet re-capitalization, the Coast Guard has to make a coherent case for the allocation of scarce taxpayer dollars. “We need new cutters because the existing ones are breaking down” might be a great sound bite, but it doesn’t address the real issue at hand – whether and why our Coast Guard needs a certain mix of cutters to do the work it is assigned.

      If the service can’t make a coherent case for new resources, it’s not going to get those resources. If you aren’t going to make that case in a R & M study, just how will you make your case?

  4. Anonymouse, “If you aren’t going to make that case in a R & M study, just how will you make your case?”

    Good question. The Coast Guard is, historically, a knee-jerk organization. It produces studies only when the crisis is on instead of building for the crisis over time. This is part of the inbreed culture of fiscal conservatism that began with Alexander Hamilton’s constant mantra of “all due consideration of costs” when it came to cutters.

    Always on the short stick of congressional dollars, the Coast Guard has failed to make its case over time. It does not use history to constantly put out its story. It does so only on those sporadic moments of crisis. Unlike the USMC that constantly shows what it has done in the past as a model for what it will do in the future, the Coast Guard merely repeats the same tired historical sound bites. The Congressional Record is full of the same events–usually reprinted from previous testimony. However, these events have little meaning or demonstration of what the Coast Guard will do in the future.

    VAdm. Hull of the Foundation for Coast Guard History hails the move of Coast Guard from public relations but this is not correct. The production of Coast Guard history is public affairs and continues to produce the same topics over and over again. There is little in-depth official work being done.

    I am willing to bet that the upcoming R&M study will retread the previous worn out historical references as some odd proof that past performance is future performance. The real history that should be used it that which illustrates how congressional funding has been deficient since 1790. Then begin a real historical program that highlights the entire Coast Guard organization on a constant basis.

    Just last Thursday I was in Birmingham, Alabama, as the Coast Guard Vietnam Veteran representative at the dedication of an exhibit at the Southern Museum of Flight. I was not amazed to find how many people did not know the Coast Guard served in Vietnam or other areas of conflict. Their perspective of the Coast Guard is narrowly defined by recruiting advertisements and fictional representations in film.

    History is not public affairs or social promotion. It is an operational factor that has been long ignored.

  5. Wow! So many good points made by so many. Wonder if anyone at headquarters was reading this??

    If the CG stays in DHS (and not get transfered as another separate dept. under the Navy, such as the USMC), I agree that there could and should be some massive economizing. DHS should have three agencies: Air (TSA, which probably needs expanded to cover cargo flights; thereby taking over some of the old Custom’s operations), Land (C&BP), and Sea (USCG). Concommitant with that, the CG needs to re-vamp some aspects of it’s maritime LE and Customs enforcement program. (I had hopes this was underway with the new rate, but MLEO makes some very important points above.) IIRC, anyone a Petty Officer and above in the CG is empowered to enforce maritime laws. This is probably not good, as law-enforcement and prosecutions are much more technical these days as opposed to when that authorization entered the Code of Federal Regulations. If there’s an ME available to run the show from a professional stand-point as far as proper LE and legal procedure, other rate POs could certainly retain their authority to assist, but putting a BM or GM in the front seat of an LE operation gives US attornies the willies, as far as expending the resources to fight it out in court on a bad arrest. I bet if the CG started a Judge Advocate General branch with lawyers in officer billets at the Sector Level as well as on the WMSLs, who could immediately communicate with the enlisted MEs who are on-the-scene, the US attornies would be much more confident at prosecuting all kinds of on-the-water cases handled by the CG. These changes would put the CG in a much better standing as the only maritime law enforcement agency…

    My pet-peeve with the CG is it’s Natl. Def. mission area. The CG doesn’t build it’s ships to the Navy’s survivability standards, doesn’t equip them with weapons or sensors that make them useful to the Navy, and all this knowing from history that if a real naval battle starts, our nation is going to be stuck with whatever naval assets we have RIGHT NOW for at least the first 6-12 months of the war. That means the large cutters need to be more relavent than they are from the Navy’s point of view.

    I’m not sure the Navy knows what it wants with it’s LCS. They’re building two different designs, and they keep switching back and forth between it being primarily a landing/assualt ship (kind of an armed LST that can also support the forces ashore with shore-bombardment, strike, and air-defense) and a multi-role, covertible (ASW-escort [Frigate/Corvette]/Minesweeper) ship. Not sure it would be good for the CG to take that mess over, when the Navy can’t seem to make up it’s mind about it… I guess the CG could “steal” the funding, build a decent large Cutter, and tell the Navy “here’s what we got for you” when the war starts…?

    I’d really like to see a mindset change about the CG’s national defense role. As it relates to systems (ships at least – haven’t put my mind to the aircraft end of things yet), we need constant presense in and just outside of every major port and harbor. This means Patrol Boats, both large (for just off-shore) and small (for in the harbor) with boarding teams and expansion of intelligence assets to really put eyes on more of the traffic so focused inspections can be conducted on more of the cargoes and vessels. Think C&BP are leaky? So are the nation’s coast-lines…

    Ultimately, the thing I think is ironic is that we’re looking to cut 400 billion. How about we economize and then keep the 400 billion and put it where it matters/helps. For the last 10 years our nation has thrown money at homeland defense, and a lot of it was a waste… Don’t mind re-looking at things, but rather than cutting it, how about we re-focus and quit acting in a panic and actually put the money to better use? After all, every environment (sea, air, and land) have leaky holes we haven’t plugged yet…

    • “Wow! So many good points made by so many. Wonder if anyone at headquarters was reading this??”

      -The answer is an emphatic “NO!”. Those of us at HQ and the Areas in policy positions know all the well what a joke and an amateur hour this site is.

      • indeed he does.

        Nobody Important, however, sadly illustrates one of the gaping shortcomings of the Coast Guard’s culture – the absolute refusal to consider different ideas from outside Fortress Buzzards Point, as if the Coast Guard already possesses all the analytical brainpower it needs. Unlike the Navy, which has an active external community of active and former members that pushes them to think outside the box.

        Yes, I sometimes cringe at what I see here and on other naval blogs, but at least people are “out there” trying to create a discussion that just might produce a good idea or two. Heaven forbid that someone from outside the Potomac Puzzle Palace might actuall come up with an idea that will benefit the service.

      • Has nothing to do with many of them not knowing anything about the CG, it has to do with the audacity to think any of us would care what someone with no CG experience thinks.

        But then, maybe we should since Bill Wells seems to be so obviously impressed with the storied history of such top notch contributers here like “Admiral questioning” LTjg Erickson, “Court Martial CGA Trailblazer” Webster Smith, LT “Weight Standards need not Apply to Me” Dolbow, and “Fired for Cause” Mike McGrath…real rockstars eh?

        Certainly all of the above damaged goods who have ranted and spewed ‘advice’ to the CG here have GREATER knowledge than 98% of those who are currently serving. Yeah Anonymouse I guess it is surpising about no one in CG blue listening to any of them, nor caring what any of them have to say other than to log on here in order to correct their misinformation. The “experts” out there at HQ or the Areas never include any of them in their secret meetings either, unlike the Navy who just loves to take its policy and program decisions off what a bunch of moonbats and wannabes on a blog say. What gives? Must be like only 2% of the people serving or have served in the past have an understanding of the Coast Guard which even approaches any of the oh so steller performers you so proudly identify with here right?

        Get a grip.

      • “Must be like only 2% of the people serving or have served in the past have an understanding of the Coast Guard which even approaches any of the oh so steller performers you so proudly identify with here right?”

        Wow! 2% I’d have to throw a yellow card on that one. I’d say the number is much lower or that is the impression I’ve gotten from reading several dozen of the thesis papers I’ve read by other stellar performers including Admiral Allen, but he was a mere commander at the time so that would not count. VAdm Crea wrote one too about the implementation of TQM. That really showed knowledge of the Coast Guard. In fact, many devoted a lot of time to TQM and its wonderful use of lists and charts. No moonbats and wannabes in that group nor in the past.

        In having an understanding of the Coast Guard that would include the policy makers only because no one else really counts. In the mid-1970s one bright young CGA grad work his thesis on the culture of the Coast Guard and astutely noted the change in leadership had moved from the generalist officer who had a wide view of the Coast Guard to the specialist who did not. Fast forward about twenty years or so, another young officer wrote in his that the Coast Guard needed the specialist officer more than the generalist because of the complexities had grown beyond the capability of the generalist to understand them. In other words, a more narrow view was more valued than a wider approach.

        I’ve read to many comments by some of the movers and shakers to believe they have more than a generational viewpoint and that was limited by their specialty.

        However, I am intrigued. Does the anonymous Nobody Important include himself in that talented 2%? Must be, because he, or she, seems to have the ability to point them out.

        So, what does an understanding of the Coast Guard entail? I’d love to hear your information.

        Also, I would not worry much about the component or combatant commanders. Most of them won’t be around that much longer anyway. Get ready for another reorganization. I would not be surprised to see another, or two, military Commander-in-Chief jobs come back.

      • When people resort to personal attacks and saying things like “get a grip,” it shows just how tenuous their own self-confidence is.

        Sad, really.

      • Geez, cry me a river. Nothing “personal” and certainly nor an “attack” involved. I sincerely doubt you have any problem with Coast Guard “culture” when your retirement check comes every month either.

        When those who want to put themselves in a Coast Guard spotlight, commenting about things they have no idea about and/or posting inane recommendations with no sense of experience in strategic planning or budgetary reality, those of us in the know will continue to address it. If not, then we have nothing to say. Many of the others have their own blogs that myself and my collegues do not challenge them on. Why? Because they are free to blog all day long on their own blog (which does not say “Coast Guard” anywhere on it). On there it’s about them and not in any way reflective of the Coast Guard as an organization. On here, many of the band of malcontents are asserting some kind of knowledge about the Coast Guard that they don’t have. Many of us that have made the service our choosen profession don’t like that very much so we speak up. You’ll just have to learn to deal with it.

        I am not dependent on posting here. I began because I believed that there was far too much Coast Guard bashing going on and that the voice of the silent majority of the Coast Guard was not being heard. I tuned in as “Nobody Important” and I am not the only one who felt that way either. Over the past two years many of us have posted here in an attempt to inject a sense of reality. Some of us included:


        All of these people are Active Duty Coast Guard. I am also willing to say that this means that any of these names individually have more active duty Coast Guard knowledge than any of the CGBlog OFFICIAL Contributors, of which either retired 20 yrs ago (Chuck) or reservists with no sea time, command or program manager experience.

        Maybe some day you will have your wish and some of us actually serving in the CG will leave and/or refrain from challenging anything said contrary to the best interests of the service. Have it your way, sure, you and Mike DeKort will be left then, and he will go on and on about Deepwater with his years old information. The numbers of readers will continue to shrink without that real life knowledge gained from the posts of some of the names I listed above. That “spark” that once could be found on threads will be gone. CGBlog will return to the days of boring threads about Coast Guard Legos, Auxilary Wallpaper for your computer or what some third world coast guard thinks about modernization.

        In the meantime, my previous counsel to you stands: get a grip.

      • Wow. What a long winded response to my very short post. I must have hit a nerve.

        Most people I know that are still on active duty don’t feel the same way you do about external criticism. In fact, they bemoan the “not invented here” mentality that you are so protective of.

        You might consider taking your own advice. 🙂

      • “God needs the Devil. The Beatles needed The Rolling Stones. Even Diane Sawyer needed Katie Couric. Will you be my Katie Couric?”

      • “I believed that there was far too much Coast Guard bashing going on and that the voice of the silent majority of the Coast Guard was not being heard. ”

        How is the silent majority going to get a voice if the Talented2% don’t let them speak?

        Silent people are silent because they wish to be and, for the most part, don’t care. They just want to run to the twenty and join the check-of-the-month club.

        Many, Many years ago RAdm Clyde Lusk gave me some advise about people in CGHQ. He said there were two types of people working in CGHQ. Those who want and work to get things done and those who just coast along until they go someplace else. There was no even split on them either. From what I saw and experienced the latter far outnumbered the former.

        I am not sure the latter type are the ones I would like seeing making policy. However, as you know, there are far more of them today. The culture does not change because the numbers of people increase.

        As for the monthly check, perhaps you’ve not heard it is direct deposit these days.

  6. While I’m on my soapbox, I might as well bring up another thing about the USCG’s military role:

    The two USCG Area Commanders should become the naval component command for USNORTHCOM, as well as having strong liaison offices with PACCOM (for PACAREA) and SOUTHCOM (for LANTAREA).

    Afterall, most operational (not training work-ups or T&E activities) aspects of naval forces in NORTHCOM’s area are supporting CG missions with CG LE boarding teams on board the vessels… In addition, this would solidify the military role of the CG as a true naval force with the mission of protecting the homeland. This would also aide in the mindset shift of our organizational values in this area.

    The one difficulty I see is that the two Area commands are three-star commands (and I think they need to remain so), and it’s unworkable to have two people and their respective offices split the command duties, so perhaps there needs to be a new three-star position created within the CG as “Commander, Naval Forces NORTHCOM” and the two Area commanders, although equal in rank, would be subordinate to that position.

    • 1.) US Fleet Forces Command is the Naval Component Commander for NORTHCOM already.
      2.) We have no plans to create additional Flag Officer billets.
      3.) We provide no operational forces to NORTHCOM (Homeland Defense role there vice Homeland Security), nor do we have any desire to.

      Please do try to become informed about the Coast Guard and our standing OPLANs/CONPLANs with the Geographic Combatant Commanders before ignorantly spouting off on these matters and trying to tell us our business.

      • “Please do try to become informed about the Coast Guard and our standing OPLANs/CONPLANs with the Geographic Combatant Commanders before ignorantly spouting off on these matters and trying to tell us our business.”

        Do you have an online link for these documents? We’d like to be as “informed” as you say you are.

      • Nobody Important –
        I fear I must risk being “master of the obvious,” because it appears you’re missing the point: this blog is a non-chain-of-command, plus outsiders, way of communicating supportive ideas to the CG of looking at doing things differently (or sometimes heavier doses of the same as it’s already doing). Some may find this to be critical, but I’ve not read any pure bashing. (Admitedly, I’ve not read every article and response here, but from what I have read, this is one of the most intelligent, mature and reflective open forums around the net. The most negativity and bashing I’ve read have been your posts above, which are not typical of you in my reading here. Perhaps you’re having a bad day[s]?)

        As far as my opinion and your response goes –
        I’m afraid I already knew USFFC was NorthCom’s naval component command. My point is that usffc’s job is to put together naval forces for the other unified commands, not to be a component commander for one of those commands. I’m suggesting a tasking change, so usffc can concentrate on their primary job and CG Area Commands can integrate into Northcom better.

        I know there’s no plans for additional billets – again, at the risk of being boringly over-detailed, this is a suggestion, not ignorant misinformation. (You may want to consider that policy makers, such as DHS staff & Congressional leaders/staff read here too…)

        I know we provide no forces TO them, but we sure use them cooperatively, and you’re either unwisely splitting hairs or showing some lack of knowledge of your own. Go read Northcom’s mission statement and read about the legislation of 2006 & 2008 and the Supreme Court ruling. The CG needs to be a more significant part of Northcom, or the CG will continue to shrink in personnel and assets (and relevancy in the Homeland Security &/or national defense role).

        No bashing involved here, just wanting to see the CG grow/be better than ever. Ideas, not negativity.

      • If you were out in the fleet you would know what I told you Bill. The last thing we would consider doing as a service is giving up operational control of CG forces to a non- CG entity to accomplish our domestic statuatory missions. You failed to identify how the CG ceding its CONUS operational commander’s authorities and forces and subordinating its three star admirals to a GCC benefits the CG. I suspect you did not because you know there is no benefit for us.

        There is no way in hell the Navy is going to even consider giving up its role as the NCC for NORTHCOM either ; they need to remain relevent in Homeland Defense for the same reason the Army and Air Force seek to via NORTHCOM.

        The CG currently provides 27 unreimbursed billets to NORTHCOM, although under the leadership of ADM Papp we are currently conducting a stem to stern review of all DD billets and reassessing the validity of continuing to foot the bill for DOD. Expect many of these detailees to be chopped. I.e., you can forget any new billets when we are in the process of cutting them.

        You are trying to mix Homeland Defense (DOD lead) with Homeland Security (CG/DHS lead) to make a point, and that is where you go off track. We are more than well aware of NORTHCOM’s intent and need to continual need to seek more and more forces in order to justify its existance, but there desire to empire build into non-Defense missions does not make it a CG problem we are obligated to solve at our expense.

      • And therein lies the malignancy of an insider’s point of view and why we outsiders posting have ideas which at least merit consideration.

        In the current and future budget battles, how survivable do you think your expressed territorialism will be? When Northcom’s naval component and CG’s missions overlap so grossly, do you really think both are going to coexist with separate funding streams at satisfactory levels?

        With CG’s statutory missions and authority, positive public impression, and historical and current-day multi-role/can-do attitude and capability, clearly the CG is the better service to be doing the Naval component command of Northcom. Stick to those points and avoid a bureaucratic, hair-splitting, territorial argument, or the debate will be lost on Capitol Hill. It wouldn’t hurt either to walk in with a plan to integrate into Northcom with CG as the leader of the Naval component. When money is tight, legislators LOVE the guy who walks into the debate with a non-self-interest/protecting plan that shows enhanced capability with lower costs. (While I disagree with the way some decisions went in DD, you need look no farther than SecDef Gates for how to do this.)

        The CG would not be ceding its missions or statutory mandates. In Northcom operations, I can’t imagine a scenario when the Commander would step in and tell the CG Naval Component Commander to change tasking on a vessel or other asset.

        If CG takes over as the NCC of Northcom, those billets would mostly go away anyway, because the Area Command’s staff would already fulfill many of those roles I bet. In addition DD would sta funding some of those billets AND add some staff of their own to supplement/alleviate CG work. (Who is subordinant to whom then?).

        Tell me the difference between Homeland Security (CG/DHS) and Homeland Defense (Navy/DOD) and then compare and contrast those differences with the differences between the classic roles of the CG like lifesaving and ATON and maritime law enforcement. Then explain to me how the CG can send out a WLB to work ATONs that gets re-tasked to a SAR case and then later on do a fisheries enforcement boarding, but a WMEC can NOT do a homeland defense and homeland security patrol at the same time?

        Territorialness in lean budget times ALWAYS hurts both services.

      • You’re being too miopic and territorial to realize my idealism has practical merit and budgetary desireability. That’s O.K. We each have a right to our opinion, and we can disagree amicably. However, that doesn’t change my observation which you did not address that in an austere environment, both services, while probably getting to keep their respective territories, will see their budgets and hence capabilities shrink. Then, when our country is victimized in another attack, both services will say: “see, you shouldn’t have cut our funding below what we recommended…” and we’ll get to play the cycle all over again. Sad when there is a potential alternative which deserves study to determine practicality and capability. I’m not saying my suggestion IS ideal, as you have by labeling it “utopian,” but I’m saying it could be a lot better and deserves more thought than one naysayer (at least on this article’s discussion), who has not honestly and fairly looked at the big picture, all the details involved, and secondary or tertiary ramifications.

      • And CG domestic missions (Title 14 authority) do not overlap Homeland Defense (Title 10 authority). I am not wasting my time educating you about the difference, you are wrong and misguided in your assertion that they are dead ringers which is enough enough that your vision will never see the light of day.

      • In Northcom’s AO there is an unbelievably vast amount of operational overlap. The authorities come from different parts of the code, but who is being idealistic now? If Northcom can task assets to help civilian authorities on a reasonably short notice, why could it not work the other way around if CG Areas were NCC of Northcom and a “defense” (vice “security”) mission came up? And on top of that, there would still be Navy assets assigned to Northcom, ostensibly still operating under title 10. How quick and easy was it for a Navy frigate in the Carribean with a LEDet aboard to hoist the CG ensign and give control to the LEDet commander?

      • CG does not perform DSCA mission. If you were in the CG, instead of pretending you know more than us, you would know this.

        Also, since the scenario you mention the Areas would be subordinate to a DOD entity, there would no longer be a “Coast Guard Commander” for DOD assets to shift TACON to because under your silly plan our operational commanders would become subordinate elements of a DOD GCC…not going to happen, ever.

      • “If CG takes over as the NCC of Northcom, those billets would mostly go away anyway, because the Area Command’s staff would already fulfill many of those roles I bet. In addition DD would sta funding some of those billets AND add some staff of their own to supplement/alleviate CG work. (Who is subordinant to whom then?).”

        DD (that is detached duty sine you apparently do not know) billets are funded by the individual services, and provide very little to zero CG work…this is why we are looking to cut them. The DD billets I mentioned are at NORTHCOM in Colorado Springs, and would not have the non-CG nature of their work absorbed by the Area staffs in Alameda and Portsmouth. Kind of hard to stand watchstander duty at NORAD from LANTAREA just as a small example you fail to recognize. As far as using DOD personnel to staff CG policy at the Area levels and below…no thanks because there is no value added there, plus as I mentioned above, you are full of it in your claim that DOD would be willing to fund CG billets at the CG Areas.

        Maybe what you need is a NORTHCOM blog where you can try and push your agenda? Nobody seems to be buying it here in the CG.

      • “DD (that is detached duty sine you apparently do not know) ”

        Department of Defense (form); destroyer (Navy ship)
        Source: JP 3-68

        However, DD=Detached Duty (ACG duties) as in Nevertheless, this would be an out of context use.

        I suggest we keep the acronyms as defined by the Joint Pubs or the DOD dictionaries. It may prevent some confusion. I also thought DD was being used for Department of Defense as in a text message.

        Now back to our program.

      • Not feeling the love here. Could you please post a reference?
        The common acronym for “Detached Duty” is DETD. I’ve located a reference to 1837 so it has long standing. The Navy’s current official acronyms also show this with a number of other variations on the detached theme.

        Perhaps this is another example of the Coast Guard not knowing.

      • You’re getting too caught up in small details. Maybe as part of the cost savings we could consolidate Alameda and Portsmouth at Colorado Springs? Where your argument loses is that, if you would pay attention to some history, instead of dismissing it as irrelevant, you would realize that policy-makers never let details get in their way if they have what they perceive as a good idea.

      • What you fail to recognize is we are the ones who make policy. And since your proposed plan for the CG would never happen in the first place, it is not overly dismissive to tell you it is irrelevant and has no foundation in the law or what is best for the CG…and ultimately the nation.

      • “What you fail to recognize is we are the ones who make policy. ”

        Oh!?! Why didn’t you say so to begin with?? You did CC DHS, the President, and Congress with this information, right? So the CG wrote Title 14 for Congress back when it was enacted?

        I’ve never claimed to be in the CG or know more about it than those who are, but I’m confident I know more than the average Joe walking down the street and leave it at that. What I do have experience with is organizational change/optimization and politics. Things very pertinent to our discussion.

        So far all you’ve said (in various forms) about the idea is, “we don’t/haven’t/can’t do it that way.” That’s fear, territorialism, or ego. Modern management in govt. is about change, optimization of services, and budget austerity. In case you haven’t figured it out, that means “change,” and you’d better get used to the idea. Frankly I felt the CG would be the easy sell on this, because historically-speaking the CG has always been evolving in missions and even absorbing/combining with other agencies (not just how CG was formed, but even changes like eliminating LORAN and ocean station missions, but taking on new ones like expanded 200-mi EEZ patrol, etc.), plus that CG came out more the winner in the proposal (not only nothing taken away, but increases in capability, assets, personnel, and responsibilities).

        I guess my error was believing that since you are at the area level, you would understand the big picture and theoretical creativity better. Obviously not.

      • Laws made by Congress and the President are not CG policy. So sad you apparently do not understand the difference.

  7. “When Northcom’s naval component and CG’s missions overlap so grossly, do you really think both are going to coexist with separate funding streams at satisfactory levels? ”

    Although there are different names, this is the old argument from the 1840s, Does the nation need two navies? Historically, the answer has been yes and no. It all depends on what groups are involved in the discussion.

    If it is a pro-Navy congressional group, there is no reason to have two services performing the same, or could perform, the same services. The pro-Coast Guard congressional groups, without looking in the pants of either organization, and remark there are differences and both are needed. There was one proposal of having an “ocean navy” and a “coast-navy”.

    However, at times the debate gets internal and like the 1890s petition of about 98% of the RCS officers wanting to transfer to the navy. Their reasons were personal. They wanted a retirement system and respect. They got the retirement system about a decade later but the respect issue is still open.

    As for the navy re-tasking Coast Guard units, it could happen. It would depend on agreement both come to prior to it being needed. A good study has not been done on the Coast Guard’s organizational and administrative relationship with the Navy in Vietnam. I’ve done some and it is not a pretty picture.

    The primary problem is one of perception by the Coast Guard that the Navy is always in charge. This is a hand-me-down from the 18th century and one that must be looked at before any agreements are made. I recommend reading the terse discussions the Coast Guard had with the Navy when it was about to be pulled into the Navy Department at the beginning of WWII. Waesche and company thought the Navy would used the complete assimilation as a way to disband the Coast Guard and take over those duties for itself.

    It may worth a look at the history before jumping into the pile.

  8. Bill,
    I see your point, and I freely admit that this idea moves towards blurring the line between the services being separate, but there are still enough differences that the CG is secure, not to mention the only mission area of the CG that the Navy seems to sniff at wanting (sort-of) is icebreaking. Not to mention that this idea is within the limited scope of Northcom’s AO. Although I don’t know the historical context and detail, my idea sounds somewhat analguous to your reference to the idea once floated of a coastal navy and an ocean navy. In the sense of my concept, the area commands take over NCC responsibility for Northcom and coordinate intelligence and multi-service assets to accomplish both homeland defense and security missions.

    I see this as more of a win for the CG. If the CG is integral part of a UCC, more money for facilities, personnel, vessels, and some of that will come from the Navy’s budget. Not to mention the trained personnel and assets of the Navy the CG would get to use for CG missions. And then we have the improved relevancy and change in mindset.

  9. “If the CG is integral part of a UCC, more money for facilities, personnel, vessels, and some of that will come from the Navy’s budget.”

    This is a completely untrue statement. All the COCOMs are funded through the DOD services budgets. The Coast Guard would not see a dime from the Navy or any of the other services, but would be on the hook to pay up big time as a subordinate component of a GCC.

    Squids performing CG missions in US waters? No thanks. The public would never stand for it and their members are incompetent as far as maritime law enforcement goes. Heck, the Navy doesn’t even trust its own boarding teams to have rounds in the chambers of their weapons even in the Persian Gulf. And while Navy port calls may be a great time, in general, hanging out with Navy sailors is not.

    Coasties working for the Air Force at NORTHCOM? Ask any who served in Vietnam on the 82s and see what kind of reaction you get about that idea. The Air Force has been more of a danger to us than they are the enemy.

    I also agree with Master Chief Wells. The Navy especially has never respected the Coast Guard and would never stand for it taking over what is their mission by law even if the Coast Guard wanted to, which as you have been informed, we will never do.

    • “Ask any who served in Vietnam on the 82s and see what kind of reaction you get about that idea. The Air Force has been more of a danger to us than they are the enemy.”

      This is an over generalization. It is also a simplistic viewpoint of a very complex situation that existed at the time of the friendly fire situation. I, we, worked with some great USAF folks. However, the watch stander at the Naval Coastal Surveillance Group in Da Nang forget we were in an area when is cleared a napalm strike close to our position. Also the Army shot at us from time to time. So, being shot at by our own troops is no reason not to work with another armed service.

      The real problem in the future is also one of history. In hard economic times, the relationship between the Coast Guard and navy become more strained as they both begin protecting turf. I bet the navy would just love to put some of their JOs and crews on the OPCs.

      By law the Coast Guard may do whatever mission it is told to do. If the President wants the cutters to do navy functions then all he has to do is say so. It’s been that way since four years before there was a navy.

      • Fair enough Master Chief, I defer to your first-hand experience regarding the 82s in Vietnam.

  10. Nice to see I kicked off a spirited discussion, although it got a little too spirited.

    Giving NORTHCOM any naval responsibilities at all muddies the waters, but I presume it is because they need the additional space to work the air defense problem, including possibly cruise missiles launched from sea.

    The NORTHCOM Naval Component Commander (NCC), does not have to worry much about overt assaults by hostile surface forces. Special Operations style attacks, that can look a lot like terrorist attacks, are certainly a possibility and the Coast Guard would have a major role in countering that possibility, but the NCC would also have to worry about submarine threats. The Naval component would likely include ASW ships and aircraft and possibly submarines. He would also have to de-conflict transiting friendly submarines and ASW forces. ASW is not something the Coast Guard knows a lot about now, so there is likely no way a Coast Guard Admiral and a predominantly Coast Guard staff could function as NORTHCOM’S NCC.

    That is not to say, in war time, the Coast Guard would not contribute a substantial part of his forces, just as the Coast Guard contributed a lot of the forces that made up the “Sea Frontier” commands of WWII.

    I think the Maritime Defense Zone Organization still exist on paper, even if it is dormant for now. This concept double hat’d the two Area Commanders as Navy commanders. In their Navy hats they were under the Fleet Commanders, but, as things have changed, I would presume they would function under NORTHCOM’S NCC now.

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