The top U.S. Coast Guard official is eyeing a unique role for his fleet in maintaining peace and stability in the East and the South China seas under the incoming presidential administration.
By mirroring the role of China’s Coast Guard in parts of the Asia-Pacific, said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, the U.S. Coast Guard could be the face of U.S. military presence in disputed waters without appearing too threatening.
“When you look at the East and South China seas, look at China’s Coast Guard, it is really the first face of China,” he told VOA. “So I’ve proposed to the Department of Defense that if they were to leverage the U.S. Coast Guard, I would look at providing resources to provide the face of the United States behind a Coast Guard ship, and should that be a consideration for our approach to the East and South China seas with the next administration.”
The post has more background.
This is a major change to Coast Guard tasking and there should be no doubt it will require some trade-off against existing tasking. In all probability our contribution will be a National Security Cutter. Keeping one in the Western Pacific probably means one less in the Eastern Pacific.
Perhaps the Navy will compensate by putting a ship under SOUTHCOM.
Thanks to Luke S. for bringing this to my attention.