“Navy to establish additional unmanned task forces inspired by Task Force 59” –Defense Scoop

GULF OF AQABA (Feb. 13, 2022) The U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class cutter USCGC Glen Harris (WPC 1144) sails near a U.S sail drone explorer during the International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express (IMX) 2022, Feb. 13, 2022. IMX/CE 2022 is the largest multinational training event in the Middle East, involving more than 60 nations and international organizations committed to enhancing partnerships and interoperability to strengthen maritime security and stability. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins)

Defense Scoop reports:

“The Navy plans to stand up additional unmanned task forces around the globe modeled after Task Force 59 in the Middle East, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told reporters Saturday…“We’ve demonstrated with Task Force 59 how much more we can do with these unmanned vehicles — as long as they’re closely integrated together in a [command and control] node that, you know, connects to our manned surface vehicles. And there’s been a lot of experimentation, it’s going to continue aggressively. And we’re going to start translating that to other regions of the world as well,” Del Toro said during a media roundtable at the Reagan National Defense Forum.”

The report goes on to mention 4th Fleet and Oceana specifically, both regions of intense interest to the Coast Guard in regard to drug interdiction and Illegal, Unregulated, Unreported (IUU) fishing respectively.

This could be a big boost to our Maritime Domain Awareness. In the Eastern Pacific Drug Transit Zone we might need uncrewed surface vessels with passive acoustic sensors since the targets of interest are poor targets for radar and optical sensors. That could lead to practical experience that could improve our ASW capability.

“Coordinating combat exercise operations from the inside of the cutter” –MyCG

MyCG has a story about the experience of personnel manning USCGC Bear’s CIC during Operation Nanook. There were some statements that surprised me.

“There were a lot of ways we were pushed as a team within the operations department,” he explained. “For me, I think it was getting acclimated with being on a cutter after being an ‘OS’ at a sector for most of my career. Being underway was really uncharted territory for me, no pun intended. Communications, especially the use of tactical signals to pass important information from ship-to-ship, was completely new to me with nearly 17 years of experience. But I would gladly do it again if I had the chance.”

How is it that we have an OS1, 17 years in the service, and he has never been afloat before?

Learning tactical signals, or TACSIGS, Gordon refers to was no small feat either. TACSIGS are a lost form of communication the Coast Guard no longer teaches. Only as a result of CIC’s collective brain power was Bear able to engage in close-quarter maneuvering with other ships in the convoy— often times, only at moment’s notice.

I know cutters seldom work with other warships, but it is a basic skill required of a CIC. Screwing up tactical signal will at least embarrass the ship, at worse the ship may be run over by an aircraft carrier–it has happened more than once.

And then there was this,

The unreliable internet capabilities to carry out critical tasking also challenged the crew.

You are depending on internet to coordinate operations? You can’t expect that to work when you need it most, and where is EMCON?

Sounds like the OS rating has proven so useful, and so many of the OS billets are now ashore, that the rating’s skill set has drifted away from those required afloat. Sounds like we have a problem. Maybe we need to split the rating? Create an OS like rating for those that serve exclusively ashore? Or else a special school to bring OSs going afloat up to speed?

“US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation” –PAC AREA News Release / “Royal Navy and US Coast Guard to Forge Closer Bonds”

Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball/Released)

The Coast Guard has been busy increasing its international visibility. Below is a news release concerning increased cooperation with the Japanese Coast Guard that came out yesterday. Today, I see a SeaWaves report, also dated yesterday that,

“The Royal Navy and US Coast Guard have vowed to work more closely to fight crime and protect the planet. The two services already combine to stop drugs traffickers in the Caribbean and Middle East, assist each other with operations in the polar regions, run exchange programs for sailors and frequently work and train side-by-side around the globe.”

The new relationship with the Royal Navy includes expanded personnel postings that began back in 2014.

There are also plans to build on already successful exchange programs, which allows USCG engineers to work with the Royal Navy but will soon also allow pilots and aircrew to do the same. (emphasis applied–Chuck)

Perhaps we are not too far from exercising something like my proposed “Combined Maritime Security Task Force Pacific” with a US Coast Guard Cutter, a Japanese Coast Guard Cutter, and a Royal Navy River Class OPV working with navies and coast guards of SE Asia to protect their EEZ. Perhaps the Indian Coast Guard will join as well.

News Release

May 19, 2022
U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation US, Japan coast guards formally expand cooperation

Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.

TOKYO — The United States and Japan coast guards formally expanded cooperative agreements and established a new perpetual operation during a ceremony Wednesday in Tokyo.

Vice Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area, and Vice Adm. Yoshio Seguchi, Japan Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, represented their respective services during the historic document signing ceremony and celebration at Japan Coast Guard Headquarters.

Although a memorandum of cooperation between the sea services has existed since 2010, strengthened relationships, increasing bilateral engagements and continued focus on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific necessitated expansion of the memorandum.

The new operation’s name, SAPPHIRE, is an acronym for Solid Alliance for Peace and Prosperity with Humanity and Integrity on the Rule of law based Engagement, and it honors the gem regarded as an emblem of integrity and affection found throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Operation Sapphire encompasses all the annual interactions between the Japan and U.S. coast guards, with the goal of increasing interactions over time.

To formalize the expanded cooperation, annexes were added to the existing memorandum of cooperation outlining Operation Sapphire to include standard operating procedures for combined operations, training and capacity building, and information sharing.

“We rely on our partners, allies, and like-minded nations to achieve our shared missions,” said McAllister. “As evidenced by this agreement, our relationship with the Japan Coast Guard is stronger than ever, and I am looking forward to many more decades of partnership and collaborative operations in the Indo-Pacific.”

“We will conduct smooth cooperation in the fields of joint operation, capacity building and information sharing by this agreement” said Seguchi. “Sapphire embodies the rule-of-law based engagement between the coast guards, and we will expand the principle of Free and Open Indo-Pacific to other nations.”

 

“Combined Maritime Forces establishes new naval group to patrol Red Sea region” –Defense News

Royal navy frigate HMS Montrose (F 236), left, Pakistan navy frigate PNS Aslat (F 254), left center, Royal navy of Oman patrol vessel Al-Shinas (Z 21), right center, and USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC 1141) sail in formation during International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express (IMX/CE) 2022 in the Arabian Gulf, Feb. 13. (Spc. Natianna Strachen/U.S. Army)

Defense News brings us word of the formation of another combined naval task force intended to enforce rules-based behavior, this time in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

It is not unlikely that the Coast Guard’s PATFORSWA will become involved in this, but more importantly, this is the latest in what looks like an emerging trend, and perhaps a way to deal with gray zone operations. It is not a military alliance against an opposing state, rather it is a law enforcement alliance of like-minded nations who wish to prevent the breakdown of order.

This seems to suggest something like my proposal for a “Combined Maritime Security Task Force, Pacific” is looking much more mainstream, if we could spread the concept from the CENTCOM area of operations to INDOPACOM and perhaps AFRICOM and apply it to Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing.