“We Need More Coast Guard” says 7th Fleet

Waesche Carat 2012

NationalDefenseMagazine.org has a piece that reports the Seventh Fleet advocating for the Coast Guard.

There is an apparent error in that Capt. David Adams is identified as “Commander of the Navy’s 7th Fleet.” I assume they mean he is a spokesman for ComSeventhFleet. Nevertheless, the good news is that someone in 7th Fleet is advocating for the Coast Guard. The bad news is that the Coast Guard may not be, being recognized for what it is already doing.

The implied desire in the article that the Coast Guard send ships to the South China Sea to confront the Chinese Coast Guard,

“We have no white hulls in the Pacific, hardly,” Adams said. “We are going to have to fund the Coast Guard, not to do their conventional missions, but to come and help with the white-hull problem out in the Pacific.”

is probably a non-starter, both because of a shortage of Coast Guard assets and because the Coast Guard has no authority in the waters in question, but that may not have been what the Captain was really saying, although taking Philippine and Vietnamese fisheries enforcement officers aboard a National Security Cutter and using it for fisheries enforcement under their authority in the South China Sea could be interesting.

Dean Cheng, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian studies center suggested,

“‘The Coast Guard is a civilian entity, and there is little reason to my mind that [it] should not exercise in conjunction with the coast guards and civilian law enforcement entities of American allies’ in the Asia-Pacific region, he said”

Mr. Cheng, must have missed USCGC Waesche’s participation in CARAT 2012, the transfer of two 378s to the Philippines and boats to Vietnam and really for the 1000th time, the Coast Guard is a military service.

(Actually very few of the China Coast Guard ships are repainted navy ships and most of their cutters are not as well armed as their USCG counterparts.)

What more can the Coast Guard do? We could certainly sell (or the State Department could give) cutters, boats, and aircraft to SE Asian countries and help train their coast guards. Foreign Military Sales of Offshore Patrol Cutters, Webber class WPCs, and HC-144s with subsequent training might be an instrument of foreign policy. There used to be a something called “seconding” whereby officers of one country filled billets in the armed services of another, but the USCG is not going to be enforcing their laws.

If the nations of Southeast Asia do as Bob Marley sang and “Stand-up, stand-up for your right,” and the Chinese gray hulls “over the horizon” are indeed tempted to intercede, I hope some haze gray 7th Fleet ships are near by to dissuade them from doing anything foolish. Coast Guard cutters will not.

Note, I changed this post after realizing I had misread parts of the referenced post.

12 thoughts on ““We Need More Coast Guard” says 7th Fleet

  1. Maybe the US Navy and US State Dept can use the US Coast Guard for soft core diplomacy. Use the US Coast Guard in places where sending a Navy Burke destroyer would be an Overkill and be seen as wanting to take someone out. Whereas sending in a US Coast Guard Cutter white hull for a diplomatic mission would be seen as a Humanitarian, and Law Enforcement mission. I believe the US 7th fleet is right that the US Coast Guard dose have a role to play in the Pivot to the Pacific.

  2. Why is it that this commander guy from the Navy thinks the Coast Guard is a civilian entity. The first thing we need people to realize is that we are a Law Enforcement, Military, humanitarian, search and rescue, environmental protection, aids to navigation force for good. (Herein lies our problem)….This is partly why that whole ICGS and deepwater modernization thing fell faster than a lead balloon with 100 pounds strapped to it. Coast Guard developed this program around 1998, but then 9/11 happened, and then the government said “Hey Coast Guard, we didnt realize you existed, but now that we know your a thing, here’s everything you can and will do”

    • Scratch the top part, I read the article, some random guy from an Asian institute thought we were civilian…but still though, come on.

      • Dave, thanks, after your note I reread the article and realized I had also misread the post. Consequently I have changed my post.

  3. USCG budgets need to be much, much higher. Most underfunded aspect of our military IMO.

    What we are seeing in the South China Sea is very possibly the future of what naval warfare will look like. I think the Coast Guard will play a prominent role, and it should be funded accordingly.

  4. Regarding “seconding”, the Navy is still, I believe, doing that. I served as a Fleet Liaison Officer for NGA’s Maritime Safety Office. I met a number of foreign officers, serving as Assistant Navigators on Navy ships from 2001 until my retirement in Dec 2011.

    • They refer to it as an exchange program, and yes we could do it that way, Of course exchange officers are not normally in command. That was more common under the “seconding” concept.

  5. I’ll ponder out loud that the people calling the USCG “civilian,” know darn well it is a branch of the military, but they are propogandizing the “civilian agency” aspect so as not to appear to be escalating tensions. From the Chinese and Japanese (at least), they are heavily utilizing their CGs in their quarrels to avoid escalating to a war / open hostilities level. The US could participate at the same level with the USCG, whereas if the USN were utilized, the US would be the belligerent. Hence the call for USCG white-hulls in 7th Fleet.

    My take on this (complete fantasy) is that the WMSLs with cracked hulls, bad motor mounts, and few/no advanced weapons be transferred to Philippines and Taiwan, while the USN or State Dept. pays to replace them with HII PF designs with better weapons equipment… (And, we’d have to vastly speed up the procurement rate, but with Navy money…)

  6. Pingback: Japan, U.S., Australia, Philippines coast guards to huddle over China activities–Japan Times | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  7. Pingback: “Build a Great White Fleet For the 21st Century”–USNI Proceedings | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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  9. Pingback: Alameda-based Coast Guard cutter and crew depart for Western Pacific patrol | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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