“Extremely Ominous Warning About China From US Strategic Command Chief” –The Drive

Image: Creative Commons.

The Drive reports,

Major conflict with China “is coming,” U.S. Strategic Command’s chief warns outright…Navy Admiral Charles A. Richard, has warned that the U.S. should anticipate, and prepare for, a protracted conflict with China in the near future – which could be triggered by further hostile actions toward Taiwan by Chinese forces.

I will admit, that military commanders always tend to look at the worst case scenarios. That seems to go along with the job, but Admiral Richard may know things we do not.

It is abundantly clear that the Chinese are building ships at an amazing rate (and here) and many of them are extremely impressive. It appears increasingly likely China will attempt to retake Taiwan in the near term.

The Coast Guard has been increasingly active in attempting to shape our international environment in peacetime.

Perhaps it is time for the Coast Guard and our Navy partners to start taking the Coast Guard’s potential war fighting role more seriously.

There are significant oportunities for development of modular weapons and sensors (and here) that could be brought aboard Cutters and operated by Navy Reserve personnel. The Coast Guard could do a lot to protect the logistics train from Chinese submarines.

The Coast Guard’s fixed wing aircraft are a significant potential asset for protection of the homeland from surprise attack.

In terms of nation defense, the Coast Guard is a bargain. For small marginal cost, preexisting Coast Guard platforms can be upgraded to provide significant capablity. The problem is that the upgrades may be needed early in the conflict. We may not have months or years to make changes.

And of course, the future option of upgrades has no deterrent effect.

Royal Navy OPV Does Mine Countermeasures With USN Team


The Royal Navy reports that HMS Tamar participated in an exercise off S. Korea, providing a platform for a US Navy diving/explosive ordnance disposal team equipped with Remus 100 uncrewed underwater vehicles to do mine countermeasures.

Virtually any large Coast Guard cutter could do the same thing, maybe even the Webber class FRCs. HMS Tamar would be an MEC if operated by the Coast Guard.

The Remus 100 would also be useful in reopening ports after a natural disaster, looking for changes in the underwater topography or obstructions.

This goes along with the way I think the Coast Guard should plan to do the Defense readiness mission, that is, that the Coast Guard would provide the platform and USN teams would come aboard, bringing the naval capability, whether it be mine hunting equipment, an ASW towed array and helicopter, or special ops team.

“Coast Guard awards contract for C-130J missionization” –CG-9

Coast Guard C130J

This isn’t your father’s C-130.

Below is an announcement of a contract by the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9).

Just take a moment to consider that the Coast Guard is spending an additional $24.5M on each brand new C-130J to increase their capability. These are not ASW aircraft, but they are serious maritime patrol aircraft with state of the art capability for maritime domain awareness.

Their unique capabilities need to be included in planning for any future major naval conflict.

Coast Guard awards contract for C-130J missionization

The Coast Guard awarded a contract to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP (L3Harris) July 12 for the missionization of up to six C-130J Super Hercules long range surveillance aircraft.

The firm fixed price contract is for the production, installation and delivery of the Minotaur Mission System Suite and a Block 8.1 upgrade for the 17th and 18th C-130J aircraft in the fleet. The contract also includes options for missionization of aircraft 19-22, which will have the Block 8.1 upgrade installed during baseline production at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Potential total value of the contract is $147 million.

Work will be completed at L3Harris’ Waco, Texas, facility. Minotaur incorporates sensors, radar and command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment necessary to carry out Coast Guard missions and offers significant increases in processing speed and memory capacity.

The Block 8.1 upgrade adds new and advanced capabilities, including enhanced inter-communication system, enhanced approach and landing systems, expanded diagnostics, civil GPS and additional covert lighting.

The HC-130J carries out many Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, drug and migrant interdiction, cargo and personnel transport and maritime stewardship. The aircraft is capable of serving as an on-scene command and control platform or as a surveillance platform with the means to detect, classify and identify objects and share that information with operational forces.

For more information: HC-130J Long Range Surveillance Aircraft Program page

“JUST IN: Coast Guard Aims to Learn from Navy at RIMPAC” –National Defense

The crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Midgett (WMSL 757) and Kimball (WMSL 756) transit past Koko Head on Oahu, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2019. The Kimball and Midgett are both homeported in Honolulu and two of the newest Coast Guard cutters to join the fleet. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew West/Released)

We are finally getting some information about the Coast Guard’s participation in RIMPAC 2022, and some of it may be a bit surprising.

A Coast Guard CO will command a task force,

Coast Guard Cutter Midgett is commanding Combined Task Force 175, which includes ships from France, Peru and the U.S. Navy, and is conducting air and missile defense, gunnery, mass rescue and anti-submarine warfare exercises.

The surprise, of course, is anti-submarine warfare. Midgett might simply simulate the high value unit to be protected, but Midgett will embark an MH-60R. The “Romeo” version is an ASW helicopter.

The 418-foot Midgett, a national security cutter and the largest class in the Coast Guard fleet, will also sail with a Navy MH-60R helicopter on board.

“Part of that is, how do you sustain that particular airframe? How do you support it for a long-range, two-month or three-month deployment?” he said. The Coast Guard is hoping to convert some of its airframes to ones used by the Navy going forward.

I might add, where do you store the sonobuoys, torpedoes, and other weapons?

(I have felt for a long time there are opportunities for attaching Navy Reserve units, that might include ASW Helicopters and their crews and sonar equipment and supporting personnel, to Coast Guard cutters as mobilization assets.)

Will the helicopter operate from Midgett as part of a Sink-Ex? Will Midgett get to participate in a Sink-Ex?

All the Sink-Exs seem to target ships of frigate size or larger. It would be good to have some smaller targets for less capable weapon systems.

What about the USCGC William Hart (WPC-1134), that will also be participating? Her only activity mentioned is to help set up a SAR exercise,

“As part of RIMPAC, the Hart will deploy two groups of mannequins at sea for the Midgett and a Japanese cutter to find and recover in a mass-rescue operation.”

Hope Hart and Midgett get to exercise against high speed small surface targets.

Looking Back on the Last 30 Years

USCGC Mellon seen here launching a Harpoon anti-ship cruise missile in 1990.

The Coast Guard took full advantage of the “peace dividend” when the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991 (the year I retired). All ASW equipment was removed. That was 30 years ago, so virtually every active duty Coast Guardsman has never been in the service when it had a defined war time mission.

The Chinese naval build up has changed the circumstance that made that shedding of capabilities logical.
The Navy decommissioned many ships. The Coast Guard retained its ships but no longer saw a need for Harpoon, sonar, torpedo tubes, etc.
For some reason they did retain Electronic Warfare capability and CIWS. I am not sure that makes sense unless there is a plan to reintroduce warfare capabilities.
The National Security Cutters are really to well equipped and more capable than their peacetime missions would require. Like the down graded post FRAM 378s, the NSCs have ESM/ECM, a first rate fire control system, helicopter support facilities that exceed our normal requirements, a  Phalanx CIWS, and a speed of over 25 knots. Those capabilities only make sense if additional upgrades are expected in time of war. We know that the NSCs were designed to accept 12 Mk56 VLS, but that alone does not make sense because that would only improve its defensive capabilities.
I sometime get the feeling we want our ships to look like warships, but we don’t really care if they are effective warships.
You don’t need to defend against cruise missile unless you are engaged in a warfare mission.
We do seem to have embraced Gray Zone missions, including Cyber. That is all to the good, but I still don’t see that we are actively engaged in “Defense Readiness,” which, to me means planning for how we can help in an existential conflict with a near peer adversary, specifically now China and/or Russia.
I also don’t see that we have fully embraced the counter-terrorism mission either, since we don’t have what it takes to deal with a terrorist attack on a US port using a medium to large size vessel. Our countermeasures are just too week. We are barely equipped to take on terrorist using personal watercraft.
Modular sensors and weapons and coordination with the Navy Reserve appear to offer a way to prepare at minimal day to day cost, but we don’t seem to be exploiting these options. Our reservist do deploy on military missions, but are we really prepared to reorder our mission priorities and assume a significant role in naval warfare? Do we have plans as to how we will upgrade our ships? How we will train operators of equipment we don’t currently have?
Shortly before I retired the US and its allies defeated the Soviet Union without going to war, because we were ready to fight. At that time we knew the Coast Guard’s missions would include escorting convoys to Europe. Since then we have had three decades without a significant naval challenge, but that has ended. It is time to embrace the fact that the Coast Guard is a military service at all times and find our place in the plans for any future struggle.

“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.