We have a report from the Japan Times that, ”
“The United States and Japan plan to hold a meeting of coast guard commanders with Australia and the Philippines as part of their efforts to forge a unified front against China’s maritime activities, according to diplomatic sources.”
with the meeting likely to take place in the Philippines.
Australia’s coast guards are volunteer organizations, more like the CG auxiliary, so their representative is likely to be Royal Australian Navy. I would think the Philippine Navy might have a role here as well. Although the Philippine Coast Guard is being reinforced, it is still not up to the task of facing down the Chinese Coast Guard. Even their Navy would have a hard time with that. There is also a Philippino fisheries management agency which is likely to be a player.
What does all this mean for the Coast Guard?
It appears the most likely outcome is USCG and perhaps Japanese and/or Australian ship-riders on Philippine ships and perhaps USCG ship-riders on Japanese cutters. If something happens between Chinese and Philippine units that might prompt the US to intercede, we would certainly want to know what actually happened. We don’t want to be dragged into a war because a Philippine unit acted improperly and then blamed the Chinese. Good documentation would also be useful in influencing domestic and world opinion. Ship-riders would also mean that if the Chinese attempt to bully the Philippines or Japan by the use of deadly force, it would mean they would have to consider the prossible consequences of US and/or Australian casualties as well.
There are other, less likely possibilities, we might, as 7th Fleet has suggested, send a cutter to patrol with the Philippine Coast Guard, or with Philippine Coast Guard representatives embarked, allowing the cutter to provide transportation and support for Philippine Authorities. Also possible, but probably more provocative and therefore less likely, would be putting Coast Guard LEDET and Philippine authorities on US Navy vessels to enforce Philippine law.
I suspect these consultations are in anticipation of a favorable decision on behalf of the Philippines by the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea. If the Tribunal decices the Chinese are imposing themselves on territory that should be under Philippine administration, what will be done about it?