The Dec. 2016 issue of US Naval Institute “Proceedings” has an article that may have important implications for the Coast Guard. Retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, chairman of the board of the U.S. Naval Institute, warns of a likely increase in the incidence of maritime hybrid warfare.
This is the use of clandestine attacks by forces with no visible connection to their sponsors, to achieve strategic effects while making definitive attribution of the actions difficult or impossible (the principle of plausible deniability).
Admiral Stavridis sees a role for the Coast Guard in countering these agents.
“Leverage the U.S. Coast Guard. Within the Sea Services, these challenges are an obvious zone of excellence for our unmatched U.S. Coast Guard. Involving it in a leadership role in combating maritime hybrid warfare is crucial. Many of its systems and platforms already contain the technologies to counter maritime hybrid warfare techniques, and its ethos and fighting spirit applied in this tactical arena would be powerful. In particular, the Coast Guard could be the nexus of a global maritime coalition approach that brings coast guards and coastal forces together to train. Fortunately, some of this already is being considered by the U.S. Coast Guard both unilaterally and with partners in the context of counternarcotics, counterpiracy, and counterterrorism operations at sea. What remains is to think through how to leverage it against a much more sophisticated, national-level opponent.”