A Conversation with Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard–CSIS

CSIS and the United States Naval Institute (USNI) conduct an interview with Admiral Karl L. Schultz, the 26th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, conducted 1 August, 2018.

Below I will attempt to outline the conversation, noting the topics and in some cases providing a comment.

The first question is about immigration. Coast Guard is the “away game.” minimizing the factors that push immigration to the US.

The Commandant does not expect a substantial increase in help from the Navy, because they are already heavily tasked, but would welcome any additional help.

06:30 Talk about Inland fleet. Congressional support is evident. $25M provided so far.

9:20 House Appropriations Committee decision to divert $750M from the icebreaker program to fund “the Wall” in their markup of the FY2019 budget bill. The Commandant is “guardedly optimistic”

11:30 Human capital readiness? Operating account has been flat and effectively we have lost 10% in purchasing power. Want to increase leadership training.

16:30 Support for combatant commanders.

18:00 Capacity building and partnering. Detachments working on host nation platforms.

21:00 Defense Force planning–Not going back to the MARDEZ model.

22:30 Situation in Venezuela/Preparation for dealing with mass migration.

24:30 Arctic forums–Need to project our sovereignty

29:00 UNCLOS

30:00 Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

32:30 Tracking cargo as an element of MDA

34:00 Cyber

36:15 High Latitude engagement/partnerships.

39:30 Perhaps the icebreaker should be the “Polar Security Cutter?”

40:00 International ice patrol, still an important mission.

41:00 CG role in response to Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea. In discussion with Indo-Pacific Command. Will see more CG presence there.

44:00 Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC)–on track

46:30 Border issue — passed on that

48:00 Small satellites–we are looking at them

49:00 African Capacity building/cooperation. May send an MEC.

51:30 Tech modernization. Looking at it more holistically.

Other Coverage:

This interview prompted a couple of notable posts.

SeaPower’s coverage of the discussion is here. They focused on the growth of demands on the Coast Guard.

Military.com reported on the possibility of a greater Coast Guard role in South East Asia and capacity building in Africa. It probably should be noted that the title, “Coast Guard Could Send Ship to Pacific to ‘Temper Chinese Influence’,”is a bit deceptive in that the Commandant’s remark about tempering Chinese Influence was in regard to Oceania, the islands of the Central and Western Pacific. The Commandant was quoted in the Seapower post, “In the Oceania region, there are places where helping them protect their interests, tempering that Chinese influence, is absolutely essential.”

Chinese Nuclear Icebreaker Planned

China Defense Blog reports that China is has begun the process to design and build a nuclear powered icebreaker, as a prelude to building a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

The post includes a quotation that is wrong on a couple of counts.

“The US and former Soviet Union used their experience with nuclear-powered icebreaker ships to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, he noted.”

The US, of course, never built a nuclear icebreaker, and the Soviet Union never built a nuclear carrier. The Soviets did build some very large cruisers with a hybrid nuclear and conventional steam powerplants, but those were their only nuclear powered surface warships. Both nations built nuclear submarines before building nuclear surface warships. China has also already built several classes of nuclear submarines

China Coast Guard Changes Departments

Photo from http://defence-blog.com/news/photos-charge-of-the-10000-ton-china-coast-guard-cutter.html
As predicted earlier, the China Coast Guard has been moved into their equivalent of DOD.
DefenseWorld reports that,
“The China Coast Guard will be absorbed into the country’s Central Military Commission (CMC), effective July 1, after the transfer of command from the State Oceanic Administration, local media reports.”
“The coast guard will reportedly be integrated into the PLA Navy as an auxiliary branch.”
“People’s Daily revealed that the Coast guard ships would be armed with more powerful small diameter cannons instead of water cannon. Under the leadership of the CMC, ship crews could also be authorized to carry fire arms.”
An earlier Bloomberg report stated
“The latest change makes the fleet part of the People’s Armed Police, or PAP, a domestic paramilitary force also directly under Xi’s command in December.”
It was only a little over five years ago that the China Coast Guard was formed from four independent agents. We have already seen it becoming better armed. They are operating former Chinese frigates. They are building much bigger cutters, and cutters based on Chinese Navy frigates and corvettes.
The China Coast Guard has proven its value, and it looks like President Xi has recognized its potential and wants to take more direct control.

 

China Disinvited from Participating in 2018 RIMPAC Exercise–USNI

The People’s Republic of China Chinese Navy multi-role frigate Hengshui (572) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) transit in formation during Rim of the Pacific 2016 on July 28, 2016. US Navy photo.

The US Naval Institute news service is reporting that the Chinese have been “disinvited” to participate in the 2018 RIMPAC exercises.

Citing actions in the South China Sea that run counter to international norms and a pursuit of free and open seas, Department of Defense spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) would not be participating in the exercise despite its participation in submarine safety and other non-warfighting components of the exercise in previous years.

China Coast Guard being further Militarized

Homeland Security Today is reporting that the Chinese Coast Guard has, you might say, “changed departments.”

At the annual National People’s Congress last week, delegates voted to put the China Coast Guard under the People’s Armed Police Force. Since January, this military police division has answered directly to the Central Military Commission, a body chaired by President Xi Jinping. According to the language authorizing the reorganization, the move is required “to fully implement the [Chinese Communist] Party’s absolute leadership over the PLA and other armed forces.”

This probably constitutes a recognition of the usefulness of the China Coast Guard in international affairs. It may also indicate a desire for closer cooperation with China’s armed forces.

China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic–Reuters

Chinese icebreaking research vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon), Photo by Bahnfrend

Reuters has an interesting short article about China’s interest in the Arctic. Initially this will probably be primarily concerned with shipment of Russian LNG, but it appears we can expect other activities as well, including fishing. Certainly we should expect more traffic through the Bering Strait, bringing with it the possibility of SAR and Marine Environment Protection incidents.

“The white paper said China also eyes development of oil, gas, mineral resources and other non-fossil energies, fishing and tourism in the region. It said it would do so “jointly with Arctic States, while respecting traditions and cultures of the Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples and conserving natural environment”. “