“The Coast Guard Should Helm SouthCom” –US Naval Institute Proceedings

Source: UNrefugees.com

The US Naval Institute has published a feature article by two USCG Lieutenant Commanders, Krystyn Pecora and Piero Pecora, suggesting that perhaps a Coast Guard flag Officer should command SouthCom.

This would certainly put the US military presence in Latin America in a different light, after a history of US meddling in Latin American internal affairs.

“Safety, stability, and economic prosperity in this region will help allay the continuing migration crisis, lay the groundwork for disaster-resilient communities, and prevent a Chinese foothold in the Western Hemisphere. The traditional DoD approach of building partner-nation military capabilities through training and access to U.S. equipment in trade for forward-deployed staging access will not suffice to achieve these goals. It will require a focus on building local civil, law enforcement, and military authorities capable of rooting out TCOs—a mission tailor-made for the Coast Guard. “

While being a Combatant Commander would certainly be a change from the Coast Guard’s normal supporting role, it might not be too much of a stretch. After all, we are not engaged in actual combat in Latin America. Generally Coast Guard forces make up most of SouthCom’s operational units,

and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assets make up much of the rest.

Coast Guard leadership in SouthCom is a natural fit. Coast Guard officers have led SouthCom’s J-3 directorate for nearly a decade, and its primary component command, Joint Interagency Task Force–South, for nearly three decades. SouthCom’s lines of effort—building relationships, countering threat networks, and enabling rapid response—all align with the Coast Guard’s statutory missions.

Looking at the humanitarian crisis that is driving the illegal immigration at the border, DHS might see DHS coordination of the US response, in the form of a Coast Guard SouthCom, as the best hope for a long term solution.

6 thoughts on ““The Coast Guard Should Helm SouthCom” –US Naval Institute Proceedings

  1. The Coast Guard may have staff experience but its officer corps lacks on the ground military experience and training.. In the end, the mission will be military.

    This is another of a long line of ‘coulda, shoulda, woudla’ articles proposed by people who want the job. Common fare in Proceedings.

    • Proceedings is kinda built around “pushing conventional thinking” and the sort. Most of it doesn’t get implemented, sure, but its part of the shtick.

      On the part about SouthCom being military…yeah and no. In theory, it is military. In practice, it’s humanitarian/law enforcement/training. There’s really few military missions/components in the traditional “blow things up/keep things from blowing up” sense. The vast majority of Latin American countries are close allies and partners.

  2. That certainly sounds like an interesting proposal…I can see the argument for it. Would you see any immediate problems Chuck with a combatant commander being under DHS and not DoD? Also, there’s always the ever-present issue of funding. Congress hasn’t exactly wrapped their arms around the idea for a (slightly) larger CG budget these past years.

    • This would not likely have much effect on the budget and while the Coast Guard has suffered recently under the budget control act, over the decades we have done better than the Navy.

      Creating another high ranking flag officer billet for the Coast Guard, and loss of one for DOD might be the biggest stumbling block.

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