“Reclaim the Coast Guard’s Military Roots” –USNI

“Convoy WS-12: A Vought SB2U Vindicator scout bomber from USS Ranger (CV-4) flies anti-submarine patrol over the convoy, while it was en route to Cape Town, South Africa, 27 November 1941. The convoy appears to be making a formation turn from column to line abreast. Two-stack transports in the first row are USS West Point (AP-23) — left –; USS Mount Vernon (AP-22) and Coast Guard manned USS Wakefield (AP-21). Heavy cruisers, on the right side of the first row and middle of the second, are USS Vincennes (CA-44) and USS Quincy (CA-39). Single-stack transports in the second row are Coast Guard manned USS Leonard Wood (AP-25) and Coast Guard manned USS Joseph T. Dickman (AP-26).”

A short article in the new US Naval Institute Proceedings makes a case for better understanding of the Coast Guard’s history as a specialized military service.

Although the Coast Guard faces myriad challenges, ranging from an aging fleet to a small budget, there is a bigger problem lurking: The service has trouble defending its place as a fighting force. This may seem trivial, but if we cannot explain how the Coast Guard fits into the national defense constellation, how can we expect politicians and taxpayers to understand the same? How can the Coast Guard expect to secure funding for its military role when even many Coasties cannot describe what makes the service military?

So why do we even want to seen as a military service? Why were we the only military service that was not paid during the last partial government shutdown. Many see the DOD as well funded while the Coast Guard survives on a shoe string (I would argue that that is not the case, but our military missions are another reason the Coast Guard should be kept healthy). If there is a war, particularly if it is a big one, the Coast Guard will be in the fight, readyor not.

It is a good article and explains why I find the repeated reminders to the public that we only have one medal of honor recipient less than useful.

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of Company E became casualties.

USCG Monomoy (WPB-1326) and Adak (WPB-1333), elements of PATFORSWA

USCGC Duane on North Atlantic Convoy Duty

7 thoughts on ““Reclaim the Coast Guard’s Military Roots” –USNI

  1. Rolling my eyes, “This may seem trivial, but if we cannot explain how the Coast Guard fits into the national defense constellation, how can we expect politicians and taxpayers to understand the same?” No crap Sherlock. This isn’t a new complaint. The question is what will the Coast Guard’s hierarchy do about it? Well, nothing as it has done in the past.

    The great Soviet-style propaganda machine of the U. S. Marine Corps is a constant hammer of a promise by using its history to proclaim, often loudly, their past is what they will do in the future. Their future is their present.

    On the other hand, the Coast Guard only lives in the present. It has been this way since 1967 when it turned back to a civil-service organization that sometimes does military duty. Even today, were it not for the uniform ever emblazoned with brightly colored ribbons, no one would know the Coast Guard had anything to do with being a military service. Naming cutters for 19th century lighthouse keepers isn’t helping.

    Of course, the U. S. Coast Guard Academy no longer teaches U. S. History — what are we to expect of the next generation of officers.

  2. Sea power is always hard to explain. Soldiering is easy to explain, ‘You shoot the bad guys’. And aircraft are glamorous and even their function is easy to explain; drop bombs or shoot at other planes. Sea power? Takes an understanding of a whole breadth of topics from geography to economics to engineering to law to politics with the ‘exciting’ (!?) kinetic stuff only the smallest part.

  3. Well maybe the USCG just needs to describe drug interdiction as a combat mission. If the USN can call sending the Literally (not a) Combat Ship USS Detroit to the Gulf for drug interdiction as ‘Forward Deployed” – why not. Want to get basic ASW capability, every Coast Guard Admiral should making a mountain out of semi-submersible narco subs. Take the recent news story and claim is only matter of time till thay sail right from Colombia to Bangor – with torpedoes that ex IRA guys sold from the UK back in the day (sounds like Tom Clancy that will sell).


    “And aircraft are glamorous and even their function is easy to explain”

    No so much when thay don’t cough err Ford.

  4. It’s the job of Coast Guard leadership to articulate a vision that justifies additional funding and a seat at the table.

    Can we say the current CG leadership has been able effective in that role?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s