“New division strengthens operational partnership with U.S. Navy” –MyCG

7.62 mm Chain Gun as Coax as optionally installed on 25 mm Mark 38 Mod 3. Image copyrighted by NAVSEA Dahlgren.

Below I have reproduced a story from the MyCG website . As someone who spent a considerable part of my Coast Guard career dealing with the Navy, it is gratifying to see some recognition of the potential and importance of this interface.

Still CG-453 seems to be pretty deeply buried in the Coast Guard HQ organization. Defense Readiness is one of our eleven missions and the interface with the Navy is central to that mission. From 1974 to 78, as a Lieutenant, I worked in the Military Readiness Division, Office of Operations. The division was headed, like this new office, by a Captain, and we also had a Navy Captain liaison officer. We did much the same work being expected of the CG-453, so I’m not sure there has been a lot of progress, but the existence of the National Fleet Board and Permanent Joint Working Group is encouraging.

There is much to do. 

This is not just about the Navy giving the Coast Guard a few second rate weapons so that cutters can do law enforcement and look sorta like warships. It should be about the Coast Guard being “Semper Paratus” to make a meaningful contribution to the national defense, if we should find ourselves in an existential fight with a near peer competitor, that will reorder all the national priorities.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US has enjoyed decades without the need to worry about a near peer competitor, but that has changed. So far, I see little indication the Coast Guard has stepped up to accept a meaningful wartime role in meeting the challenges of a now aggressive and capable Chinese military.

That is not to say we need to become Navy lite, but we have assets that with a little money, thought, and coordination with the Navy, could be useful if mobilization is require. I have suggested one possibility here.

While the Navy has shown little interest in weapons appropriate for small vessels, with the new interest in unmanned vessels, it appears they may be showing interest in weapons that might also equip Coast Guard patrol craft. These might include adaptation of Hellfire/JAGM and the Very Light Weight Torpedo. These systems could allow the Coast Guard to fill its unmet need to be able to forcibly stop vessels regardless of size. That would help a peacetime counter terrorism mission, but we may need the capability in wartime as well.

Textron Systems’ CUSV with Surface Warfare payload including Hellfire/JAGM Vertical Launch System at SAS 2019

If we do get into a conflict with the Chinese, I suspect one of the Coast Guard’s first responsibilities will be to take control of the very large fleets of Chinese controlled fishing and merchant vessels. Forcibly stopping these vessels may be a major problem.


Sep 13, 2021

New division strengthens operational partnership with U.S. Navy

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

When the Coast Guard deploys cutters and aircraft alongside Navy battle groups, the two components operate together in support of their mutual homeland security and national defense missions. The new Navy Type Navy Owned Combat Systems Management Division (CG-453) has been established to serve as the principal point of coordination between the Coast Guard and Navy System Commands.

In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the Coast Guard provided nearly 2,900 cutter patrol days to support Department of Defense priorities including:

  • 2,000 major cutter days to Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) for drug interdiction operations.
  • National Security Cutter deployments to support Indonesia Pacific Operations.
  • National Security Cutter escort of two new Fast Response Cutters (FRC) to Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
  • Heavy Icebreaker support for Operation Deep Freeze.
  • Six Fast Response Cutters in Patrol Forces Southwest Asia to support Central Command (CENTCOM) and Fifth Fleet.

All of these joint missions were possible through shared common systems that provide the Coast Guard with the capability to act as a force multiplier for the Navy fleet.

The Navy will spend $164 million in FY21 on the acquisition and sustainment of surface, aviation, and command, control, communications, computers, combat systems and interoperability (C5I) equipment installed on our cutters, aircraft, and training centers.

Both Navy and Coast Guard platforms use the Navy Systems Commands, which offers interoperability between services and vessels. They are also being used to increase the Navy’s combatant picture. Because of the increased integration of our newest assets, it is vital to communicate across the:

  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) engineers, builds, buys, and maintains the U.S. Navy’s fleet of ships and its combat systems.
  • Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) supports naval aviation aircraft and airborne weapon systems.
  • Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) is the communication center for information technology, sensors, and systems connecting air, surface, subsurface, space and cyberspace that are vital to the mission and to national security.
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) is responsible for developing policy, procedures, and requirements and other logistics/warfare centers.

“Collectively, we work together with the Navy to make sure that requirements for the acquisitions program offices are met as well as any requirements for logistics/service centers,” said Capt. Patrick M. Lineberry, Chief of the NTNO Combat Systems Management Division. “On a daily basis, CG-453 works with Navy partners to ensure that the Navy is providing the common equipment that aligns joint resources and supports the acquisition of interoperable systems installed on Coast Guard surface, air, and land-based assets.”

Some of the types of equipment the office oversees are:

  • Fire control and multi-mode RADARs
  • Military satellite communication equipment
  • Electronic warfare systems
  • Large and medium caliber gun weapon systems

“The better stewards we can be of this equipment, the more capable we will be as a joint force in the maritime domain,” said Lineberry. “We will not only offset the Coast Guard budget, but also become more efficient for the taxpayer through common training, maintenance, and logistics systems.”

CG-453 also provides training on interoperable electronics and gun weapon systems to cutter technicians show them how to operate Navy guns and electronics that are also on Navy ships.

The new division was developed in partnership with the National Fleet Board and Permanent Joint Working Group.

“It took over 18 months to solidify culmination of efforts across multiple directorates, but the topic was discussed in some circles for several years before finally taking shape, under the direction of the Executive Steering Committee, led by Rear Adm. Douglas M. Schofield,” said Neal Pratt, Deputy of the NTNO Combat Systems Management Division.

Pratt has been working for 10 years to get the NTNO Program office from development to formal office status and is elated to see both the Coast Guard and the Navy realize the true potential of the NTNO Program, and how each service can mutually benefit from common electronics and weapons systems.

“NT/NO systems are evolving from the stand-alone systems, currently installed on legacy platforms, to complex electronics and gun weapon systems that integrate with command and control capabilities that may be owned by the Coast Guard or another Navy System Command,” added Pratt.

The CG-453 division aligns with “Advantage at Sea” a tri-service (Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard) Joint Maritime Strategy.

Early stage efforts of CG-453 will focus on relationships, communications, and documenting Navy requirements and maintaining Navy systems throughout their entire lifecycle.

Please visit CG Portal site for more information.

How The Fleet Forgot to Fight” –CIMSEC

USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752), left, and the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) maneuver in formation during Talisman Sabre 2019 on July 11, 2019. US Navy Photo

Currently the CIMSEC web site is migrating to a new server so it is off line, but they have provided something a shorthand critique of how some think the Navy has fallen short, since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Coast Guard still has Defense Readiness as one of its eleven missions. We in the Coast Guard are highly dependent on the Navy helping us know what needs doing, but I don’t think we should fail to think for ourselves.

This short five page outline of what the Navy has been doing wrong may be helpful because we have probably been making some of the same mistakes, not just in our preparation to fight a “near peer” major conflict, but in our response to the terror threat, and perhaps in our on-going war with drug smugglers.

Bahrain Bound FRC gets Upgrades, LRAD and Short Range Air Search

(As we get into this, you may want to click on the photo to get an enlarged view.)

This Spring, the first two Webber class patrol craft are expected to go to Bahrain to start replacing the six 110 foot WPBs of Patrol Force South West Asia (PATFORSWA).  Two more will join them in the Fall and the last two in 2022. Back in 2018, I speculated on what might be done to modify them for duty in this more dangerous area. Apparently the Coast Guard leadership has had a few ideas of their own.

We have some very shape observers among the readers of this blog.

First Andy provided the photo of USCGC Charles Moulthrope (WPC-1141) above and pointed out the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD, the gray device mounted near rail on the O-1 deck just this side of the port forward corner of the bridge) and the four round sensors a short way up the mast two on each side. I note these systems were not on the ship when it was handed over by Bollinger (photo below).

The 41st fast response cutter (FRC), Charles Moulthrope, as delivered to the Coast Guard in Key West, Florida, Oct. 22, 2020. It is the first of six planned FRCs to be stationed in Manama, Bahrain. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Then Secundius identified the four round sensors on the mast as Sierra Nevada Modi RPS-42 S-Band Radar.

From the Company web site: “RPS-42 is an S-Band tactical hemispheric air surveillance radar system. It is a member of the non-rotating, solid-state, digital radar family Multi-mission Hemisphere Radar (MHR), developed by RADA Electronic Industries Ltd.
“The RPS-42 is a pulse Doppler, software-defined radar platform, that can detect, classify and track all types of aerial vehicles – including fighters, helicopters, UAVs, transport aircraft, etc. at tactical ranges. A single radar platform provides 90º azimuth coverage. Hemispheric coverage is achieved when four radars are employed as a system. Mobile or stationary, the system can be integrated with any C⁴I system and other radars and sensors. The software is able for On-the-Move (OTM) Operation. The radar can operate either as a stand-alone or as part of a large-scale surveillance system.
“The Antenna is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) based on Galliumnitrid (GaN) Amplifiers. Its diameter is 50.4 cm , the max width is 16.5 cm. (19.8″ x 6.5″ –Chuck)
“The achievable range for detection of the smallest drones (known as Nano UAV) is 3.5 km”

These radars use Galliumnitrid (GaN), the new technology in radar, that allows the AN/SPY-6 to significantly outperform the earlier AN/SPY-1 found on most Aegis equipped warships. (Reportedly a 3000% improvement)

You can get an appreciation of what this is about from this Popular Mechanics article. This Is the ATV-Mounted Jammer That Took Down an Iranian Drone.

There is more here: Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System [LMADIS] (globalsecurity.org)

I’m only guessing, but I would think the FRC would also have the same or equivalent complementary equipment as the LMADIS, e.g. small EO/IR camera, Skyview RF Detection system and Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer (Photo below, I may be seeing the jammer–pictured below–located above and behind the port side RPS-42 radar arrays, visible between the radar arrays and the tripod legs). The cutters of this class are already normally equipped with electro-optic devices, both on the mast and on the Mk38 gun mount, which can provide a kinetic counter to UAVs.

Sierra Nevada MODi RF jammer. From the company web site, “SNC’s Modi II is the most modern & highly-capable dismounted EMC system in the DOD inventory.”

This was probably what the Commandant was talking about, when he said that Coast Guard PATFORSWA had a counter UAS role in a recent interview.

I am thinking, this radar might also be used on some of our other cutters as well, perhaps the 210s and the six 270s to be FRAMed, to provide them better control of their helicopters on approach in bad weather. The 210s have no air search radar and the 270s will almost certainly lose the Mk92 fire control system which provides their only air search radar currently. Reportedly the radar has a range of up to 30km and an instrumented range of 50km at altitudes from 30ft to 30,000 feet. Apparently the Marines are also using it to direct fire for their short range air defense systems. which includes a 30mm gun and Stinger missiles.

Thanks to Andy and Secundius for kicking this off.

White Hull Diplomacy, “The Coast Guard and Stability Operations” –Small Wars Journal

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752) sales alongside the Indian coast guard ships Abheed and Shaurya (16) Aug. 23, 2019, while transiting in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Chennai, India. The Stratton is participating in a professional exchange with the Indian coast guard that includes operational exercises at sea and on shore. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Esterly)

Small Wars Journal makes the case for designating the Coast Guard to maintain expertise in and conduct maritime stability operations.

Historically, the United States military is regularly involved in some sort of stability operation despite the military preference for high intensity conflict. … The United States risks losing some of the lessons learned if it does not develop a holistic and complementary Joint Force that can both dominate a peer enemy and conduct stability operations at and below the level of armed conflict. Competition means that forces will be employed across the spectrum of operations with equal emphasis. Designating specific services to conduct stability as a primary mission is one means of ensuring a Joint Force that is equally capable across the spectrum. The Coast Guard is uniquely suited to a lead role in maritime focused stability operations. As a military force that is resident within the inter-agency, the Coast Guard provides a presence that is “instantly acceptable because of their worldwide humanitarian reputation.” This forward presence dovetails with the Department of Homeland Security mission of “safeguarding the American people” by pushing the boundaries of U.S. law enforcement into regions and countries where it can mentor and develop partner capabilities in the areas it is needed most.

It quotes the Coast Guard Strategic Plan 2018-2022.

“The Coast Guard plays a critical role in strengthening governance in areas of strategic importance. We mature other nations’ inherent capabilities to police their own waters and support cooperative enforcement of international law through dozens of robust bilateral agreements. Our leadership on global maritime governing bodies and our collaborative approach to operationalize international agreements drives stability, legitimacy and order. As global strategic competition surges, adversaries become more sophisticated and the maritime environment becomes more complex. The Coast Guard provides a full spectrum of solutions, from cooperation to armed conflict.”

The post states,

“At its heart the primary stability tasks fall into seven military missions and activities:  protecting civilians, security sector reform, support to security cooperation, peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense.”

It then goes on to describe how the Coast Guard has done each of these tasks in the past.

What we may be seeing here is a preview of the roles the Coast Guard may be expected to perform when the expected Tri-Service Strategy is published.

Thanks to Geoff for the “White Hull Diplomacy” portion of the title. 

“The Value of an Extra C – The New C5ISC” –MyCG

An old Deepwater Concept illustration, but you get the idea

Passing this along, because it looks like an important reorganization. It appeared on the MyCG website that I recently added to the “Recommended Blogs” list. This seems to be putting a greater emphasis on cyber. The “Brochure” linked at the bottom of the story gives a nice breakdown of the organization and responsibilities.


The Value of an Extra C – The New C5ISC

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

The Coast Guard has completed the single largest organizational restructuring of a unit in the past decade. In June, the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and Intelligence Service Center (C5ISC) was established. It replaced its counterpart, the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Information Technology Service Center (C4ITSC) as well as assimilated the three centers of excellence: the Command, Control, and Communications Engineering Center (C3CEN), Telecommunication and Information Systems Command (TISCOM), and the Operations Systems Center (OSC).

The reorganization encompasses over 800 military and civilian personnel. The alignment promises to improve the Coast Guard’s ability to deliver technology solutions at the “speed of need” for mission success. The functional structure of this new unit will underpin and enable the Coast Guard’s Technology Revolution’s five lines of effort: Cutter Connectivity; Modernizing C5I Infrastructure; Cyber Readiness; Software, Mobility and Cloud; and Data for Decisions.

“The commissioning of the new C5I Service Center represents the culmination of over six years of effort from personnel across the Coast Guard to transform the C4ITSC into an organization that will more effectively and efficiently deliver technology solutions for mission success,” explained Capt. Russell Dash, the new C5ISC commander. “Our new structure supports the Coast Guard directly through our six Product Lines, which serve as the focal point and center of gravity for our service delivery. Our robust Shared Service Divisions are designed to make our Product Line Managers successful by providing consistent, standard support including business operations, engineering and infrastructure services, workforce and facilities management, budget and finance, and asset and logistics services. The new organization is now poised to make the Commandant’s Tech Revolution a reality and deliver C5I mission support at the speed of need.”

By standardizing processes and creating intentional mission alignment with other Coast Guard units who also work in the informational technology space (e.g. Surface Forces Logistics Center [SFLC], Aviation Logistics Center [ALC], Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center [SILC], Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center [HSWL], and Coast Guard Cyber Command [CGCYBER]), the new C5ISC structure enables faster, more nimble responses to technology-related problems.

This fundamental shift in how the Coast Guard delivers C5I capabilities, unifies efforts under a single leadership structure and follows industry-proven standard processes, which will drive efficiency and consistency in every action moving forward.

The few months since the C5I Service Center’s establishment have already reaped successes. For example, the Fleet Logistics System Mobile Asset Manager (FLS-MAM), the supply management tool used by cutter maintenance and supply personnel, was rewritten to ensure this vital program would stay safe and secure from outside threats, such as spyware or other malicious software. Another example includes the delivery of essential satellite communications equipment to the medium endurance Coast Guard Cutter Bear. Members of the C5ISC worked with other offices to provide the Bear, the important backup Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) system it needed to deploy on-time, despite tight time constraints.

Additionally, the C5ISC shared services divisions and product lines partnered with cyber operations and the Eighth District to provide a unified C5I response, which supported contingency operations for Hurricanes Isaias, Laura, Sally, and Tropical Storm Beta.

The C5ISC workforce has been aggressively working to improve the Coast Guard’s information technology infrastructure. More specifically, they have been working to identify the constraints within our external network connections that impact our capacity in the information technology arena and overall cyber resiliency. This became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent increase the Coast Guard workforce’s teleworking. This dramatic increase in using the Coast Guard’s external network highlighted gaps that the C5ISC is now better placed to resolve, thanks to a more streamlined and cohesive set up. Through various partnerships, including Cyber and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the C5ISC has made significant headway improving the Coast Guard’s ability to meet missions and strategic goals as outlined in the Technology Revolution Roadmap.

If you have access to the Portal, more information on the C5I Service Center can be found here.

Resources:

“The U.S. Navy-Coast Guard Partnership Is Heading For Trouble: Here’s How To Fix It” –Forbes

141219-N-DX365-258
BAHRAIN (Dec. 19, 2014) Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Det. 1, conducts a vertical onboard delivery with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maui (WPB 1304). HSC-26 is a forward deployed naval force asset attached to Commander, Task Force 53 to provide combat logistics and search and rescue capability throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joan E. Jennings/Released)

Forbes points to growing strain in the Navy/Coast Guard relationship as defense focus shifts from counter terrorism to near peer conflict.

The author, Craig Hooper, points to limits on reimbursement of Coast Guard costs in support of DOD, limited Navy support for drug interdiction and law enforcement efforts, a push for more Coast Guard assets in the Western Pacific, a need to recapitalize the Coast Guard Yard as a national asset, and possible deployment of Navy personnel and assets, particularly rotary wing, to aid in the execution of missions.

“Reorienting the Coast Guard to address “new” state-based threats is a complex problem that will require patient investment and a lot of  preparatory work to be successful. The Coast Guard is part of America’s large National Fleet, and the tighter integration of Coast Guard forces—along with the U.S. Merchant Marine, NOAA’s research fleet and other Federal maritime assets—into the U.S. national security mission space merits thoughtful consideration…”

The topic raises a number of issues.

The Coast Guard is simply underfunded. If the Coast Guard’s defense related missions were properly recognized and funded as part of our very day missions, no reimbursement would be necessary. Certainly fisheries patrols in the US Western Pacific EEZ are a real everyday Coast Guard mission.

As cutters go increasingly into harms way, maybe they need to be better equipped for the possibility of combat.

Mobilization planning really should address how Navy Reserve Personnel and equipment, notably ASW helicopters, LCS mission modules, and ASW, EW, and Weapons operators and support personnel, could augment cutters and bring them up to a wartime compliment.

“Nearing a ‘tipping point,’ Coast Guard needs lasting change” –The Hill

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz visits with Coast Guard crews stationed in New York City. U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Petty Officer 1st Class Jetta Disco.

The Commandant has an opinion piece in “The Hill” explaining the effects of continued short falls in the Coast Guard’s Operating budget.

Because of unplanned maintenance and supply shortages, we lost the operating equivalent of two major cutters and seven helicopters last year, adversely impacting mission performance. In addition, the Coast Guard has delayed shore infrastructure repairs to such a degree that we now have a $1.7 billion backlog of urgent projects. Simply put, cuts from within have hollowed Coast Guard readiness.

He points to what appears to be a misinterpretation of the Budget Control Act.

A less-recognized impact developed when the lower sequester spending limit took effect in 2013. The BCA originally established the two primary categories of discretionary spending as “security” and “non-security.” However, once sequestration was enacted, the categories automatically changed to “defense” and “non-defense.” This means that DHS, with a military service — the Coast Guard — in its arsenal and national security as its primary responsibility, is limited under an annual non-defense discretionary cap of roughly $49 billion and forced to compete with all other non-DOD agencies for funding. Yet, under a “security” classification, DHS would be included with DOD under budget caps that recently exceeded $600 billion.

He suggests a phased solution.

The fix seems simple, and it is. The near-term solution is to increase the Coast Guard’s share of Defense funding — without penalizing DHS’s budget cap — to more appropriately resource us with necessary equipment, training, people and operating funds. Phased increases of $200 million per year, or 0.0003 percent of DOD’s 2019 budget, would begin to close the gap between our current Defense funding and actual Defense contributions.

The long-term solution is to recognize the Coast Guard’s crucial role in maintaining our national security and fund us as a military service. The appropriations structure should return to the “security” and “non-security” classifications, the original and arguably “just” intent of the BCA. This would ensure the Coast Guard is funded in parity within the same category as all U.S. Armed Forces and allow for consolidated oversight of all national security spending.

My Take

Let us be frank. We are not taken seriously as an armed force. We should be. In terms of personnel and number of ships, the Coast Guard is larger than the Royal Navy. If we want the Congress and the Administration to see us as a Defense asset, we need to do more than talk the talk, we need to walk the walk. We need missions and weapons. We need to identify the threats, how we can compliment the Navy, and the additional capabilities we need, not just in the case of a terrorist attack, but also in case of a major conflict with a near peer adversary.

The capacity building which we do, and I believe is important, can be perceived as more law enforcement than defense. These operations may even be seen by some, as an indication we actually have more assets than we need, since we have taken on this extra task, which is outside our normal mission areas.

We seem to argue that we are funded for peacetime and our readiness for war comes as a free good. We need to change that argument and that perception, which we have unfortunately cultivated. Our Defense Readiness needs to be paid for.

On the other hand, we can argue that, unlike other armed services, the Coast Guard gives the country a double payback. When we are funded the Coast Guard’s readiness for war, the country also gets better results in peacetime. It means more capable platforms, better communications and intelligence, and more secure ports.

You Can’t Get There From Here

An Allied convoy heads eastward across the Atlantic, bound for Casablanca, in November 1942. U.S. Navy (photo 80-G-474788), Post-Work: User:W.wolny – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 520948.

In planning for the possibility of a major war in Europe or Asia, the US is finding it has a number of problems with Logistics. 90% of the weight of supplies and equipment have to go by sea, but,
  • We have too few ships
  • The ships we have are old
  • These old ships are in many cases steam powered
  • These ships may not have been maintained as well as they should have been
  • We have too few mariners to man the ships
  • Too few of the mariners we do have know how to run steam ships
  • Most of our mariners have no concept of how to contend with a wartime environment
  • and, oh by the way the Navy does not have ships to protect the few ships we have as they make their way through contested waters.

After outlining the problem, I’ll talk about how the Coast Guard might mitigate the problem.

Recent Reports:

DefenseNews in a post, “The US Army is preparing to fight in Europe, but can it even get there?” reports,

The U.S. sealift capacity — the ships that would ultimately be used to transport Army equipment from the states to Europe or Asia — is orders of magnitude smaller than it was during World War II. Combine that with the fact that the commercial shipbuilding industry in the U.S. is all but gone, and the U.S. can’t launch the kind of massive buildup of logistics ships it undertook during wartime decades ago.

Among the ships the country has for sealift and logistics forces, the Government Accountability Office has found a steady increase in mission-limiting equipment failures, which raises questions about how many might actually be available if the balloon goes up.

The ships the U.S. counts among its ready stock available for a large-scale contingency are 46 ships in the Ready Reserve Force, 15 ships in the Military Sealift Command surge force, and roughly 60 U.S.-flagged commercial ships in the Maritime Security Program available to the military in a crisis,

The 46 Ready Reserve Force ships, overseen by the Maritime Administration, are old and rapidly approaching the end of their hull life, as are many of the senior engineers who are still qualified and able to work on the aging steam propulsion plants.

DefenseNews commentary, “The US armed forces have a mobility problem,” reports,

“Our Merchant Marine fleet’s wartime role is to move weapons, ammunition, troops, equipment, fuel and supplies. Our current fleet — simply put — does not have the capacity to meet today’s requirements.

“We don’t have enough ships, and even if we did we don’t currently have the crews to sail them. We’re short at least 1,800 merchant mariners.

“The human capital shortage may be worse than the shortage in ships. A report by the Maritime Administration to Congress highlighted the problem. The report “estimates that 11,768 qualified mariners … are available to crew the Ready Reserve Force … the estimated demand for mariners [in an emergency] is 13,607.” ”

There is a Navy Times report, “Pentagon investigators slam military’s oversight of supply ships,” based on an IG report that looked at 20 ships we have in the MSC’s Prepositioning Program. It seems to indicate that some of these ships, already loaded with critical equipment, may not be ready to sail.

Perhaps most troubling of all, “‘You’re on your own,’ US sealift can’t count on US navy escorts in the next big war,” that reports

“The Navy has been candid enough with Military Sealift Command and me that they will probably not have enough ships to escort us. It’s: ‘You’re on your own; go fast, stay quiet,’” Buzby told Defense News in an interview earlier this year.

The head of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Adm. James Foggo, tried to put a positive spin of the personnel shortage, “The tradition of the Merchant Marine is we go to sea no matter what, damn the torpedoes. Most of us believe that our people will not be dissuaded. But until they walk up the gangway, you never know.”

It does seem that the fleet obsolescence may be addressed, but the lack of personnel and escort ships remain.

A Modern Convoy:

I have real problems with the idea of independent sailing in the age of satellite reconnaissance, not only because the ships become easy pickings, but also because there would be no one to rescue the crews. This would certainly make mariners think twice before signing on. The answer is as old as naval warfare, convoy. Certainly we are not likely to ever see the likes of WWII convoys, with ships steaming only a few hundred yards apart. Ranges of both sensors and weapons have increased by an order of magnitude or more. We don’t want one sub to be able to simultaneously target several ships. A modern convoy would be spread over a much greater area, perhaps a moving grid 100 miles on a side. It might include escorting ships, but it would certainly include at least one escorting aircraft.

WHAT THE COAST GUARD CAN DO?:

“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 little Coast Guard History:

It might be worthwhile to look at what was done in the past. Before the start of WWII both the US Navy and Army had transports. The Navy transports were manned by regular Navy personnel. The Army transports were manned by civilians. During a large scale exercise before the war started, the civilian mariners refused to operate with darkened ships, considering it unsafe. This lead to the Coast Guard being assigned to crew these transports. Personnel were available because ten cutters had been lend leased to the British and their crews were available. These were the first of 351 Navy ships and craft manned by Coast Guard crews. While these included over 100 surface combatants, most of them convoy escorts, the rest were mostly transports and landing ships and craft. In addition the Coast Guard manned 288 Army vessels, mostly small inter-island freighters.

So what can we do now?

Encourage Coast Guard members to become credentialed mariners:

The first thing the Coast Guard might do is to encourage and facilitate the credentialing of personnel by the time they leave the service. The Coast Guard Cuttermen’s Association has provided guidance as to how coastguardsmen can become credentialed mariners, “”A Coasties Companion Guide to the Mariner Licensing Process” (PDF document).

A Navy program, Credentialing Opportunities On-line (COOL), in partnership with Military Sealift Command (MSC), provides training in a military to mariner program. that may be open, or if not already, could be opened, to the Coast Guard.

Money is the sincerest expression of appreciation, and if this is a national security issue, perhaps there should be a monetary incentive to obtain and maintain mariner’s credentials after a member separates from the service (Navy or Coast Guard). Apparently there is still on the books (46 U.S. Code 51701) provision for the Secretary of Transportation to set up a United States Maritime Service that could:

  1. Determine the number of individuals to be enrolled for training and reserve purposes in the Service:
  2. Fix the rates of pay and allowances of the individuals…
  3. Prescribe the course of study and the periods of training for the Service; and 
  4. Prescribe the uniform of the Service and the rules on providing and wearing the uniform. 

Add Reserve Units capable of manning US ships: 

The Coast Guard Reserve could be expanded to include crewmembers for these ships, either as augmentees or as complete crews. Some of the MSC ships currently have mixed crews of military and civilians. Presumably if the ship had an all military crew, it would be a commissioned ship, rather than an MSC ship.

Provide Rescue Ships: 

If we had a modern convoy, watched over by Maritime Patrol Aircraft, a Coast Guard cutter equipped with helicopter could act as rescue vessel. It would probably be positioned near the center of the convoy perhaps toward the rear. Its helicopter could remove the crew of a sinking ship and the cutter could provide damage control assistance.

Provide Administrative Escort:

The same ship that provides rescue and assistance might also serve as an administrative escort. The idea is to use the superior communications ability of the larger cutters including the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) on the National Security Cutters (and perhaps the Offshore Patrol Cutters) to route the convoy away from danger.

Bring Back the Coast Guard ASW program:

Perhaps it is time to revive the Coast Guard’s ASW capability. When the Soviet Union fell apart, the Coast Guard dismantled its ASW capability as no longer relevant, but things have changed. China appears increasingly aggressive and is building a modern fleet at an alarming rate. Russia is also resurgent with their submarines now patrolling at levels similar to those seen during the cold war, while our own Navy has been drastically reduced. It appears, in ten to twenty years we will face a naval challenge greater than pre-WWII Japan. I don’t really think the 20 planned FFGs are going to be enough. Providing suitable weapons and sensors for the eleven NSCs and 25 OPCs, augmented by Navy Reserve ASW helicopters, could make a huge difference in our ability to move supplies and equipment safely across the Oceans.

 

 

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.”