CIMSEC has an interesting article by a serving officer, Lt. Joseph O’Connell.

He starts off talking about gapped billets in the Coast Guard in general, 200 in 2021, but then concentrates on gapped afloat billets, 11 in 2021.

” This shortage grows more acute when considering the critical billets O3 and O4 officers fill aboard Coast Guard cutters: Operations Officers, Engineer Officers, Executive Officers, and Commanding Officers, depending on the cutter class.”

I am sure his observations are accurate, as far as they go, but I think he may have missed an important aspect of the Coast Guard’s assignment policies that has resulted in many officers, with sea going ambitions, making the choice to leave the service at the O-3/4 level. If we don’t do something differently, the problem is going to get worse.

As the Coast Guard continues to bring new hulls online while operating legacy assets the demand for afloat officers will far outstrip the limited and dwindling supply, with projections anticipating a 25% increase in cutter billets from current levels.

A change in personnel assignment policy could make a big difference.

I am long out of the service, so it is best if you check to see if my assumptions are correct.


  • The ambition of most seagoing officers is ultimately to have a command afloat.
  • Being a department head or XO is not an end in itself. It should be seen as a step toward command.
  • Assignment officers are more likely to select an officer to command if they have had a previous successful command tour.
  • If an O-3 sees that it is extremely unlikely he will ever get a command, he is unlikely to seek a department head or XO job and may very well leave the service.


Coast Guard personnel policies have created a situation where if you have not gotten a command as an E-3, it is unlikely you ever will.

The service is procuring 65 Webber class WPCs. At least 51 have already been commissioned. While a few are commanded by warrants or O-4s, generally they are commanded by O-3s. These and the few other O-3 afloat command billets create a large pool of potential future COs to choose from.

Those that have been or expect to be O-3 COs are unlikely to seek billets as department heads or XOs.

Those who miss the opportunity to command at the O-3 level, will see little chance they will be an afloat CO in the future.


Make command of a Webber class an O-4 billet.

Require that those selected to command Webber class WPCs will have completed a successful department head or XO afloat tour.


While some may feel command of a patrol craft requires only a junior officer, consider that these little ships, unlike WPBs, are doing all the same missions as an MEC (except the aviation component) with a smaller crew and fewer senior personnel to advise and support the CO. These ships generally operate independently, unlike Navy patrol craft which generally operate in groups under a squadron commander. We are seeing some of them embark on voyages of thousands of miles, operating outside US waters.

This policy would provide an incentive for officers to seek department head or XO tours as O-3s.

The Officers chosen to be COs at the O-4 level will be more experienced and more mature.

The service will have had more time to evaluate the officers prior to assignment including direct observation by a CO afloat, who should make a recommendation for or against a future command afloat.

Ultimately some officers will determine that they really have no chance of getting a CO afloat tour, but it will happen later in their career, when they may have found other rewarding work and they are less likely to leave the service.

“Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative” –MyCG

Masked members of the cutter James crew and Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz (front, center), along with interagency partners, stand among interdicted narcotics at Port Everglades, Florida, on June 9. U.S. COAST GUARD / Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray

Just passing this along from MyCG. Note that one of the three ratings included in the program is culinary specialists (CS), reflecting the apparent cronic shortage in the rating. Presumably we are short electrician’s mates (EM), and health service technicians (HS) as well.

Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Writer, Nov. 17, 2022

The Coast Guard is launching a new Lateral Entry Beta Test initiative to fill key gaps in the workforce. As part of the Commandant’s intent to transform the total workforce, the Lateral Entry Working Group (LEWG) has developed a new, smooth, and streamlined process to recruit, train, and place candidates with matching skillsets and suitable military experience into critical roles in the service in fiscal year 2023 (FY23). The LEWG used the Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Protocols to develop the Lateral Entry Determination Calls (LEDC) Protocols to govern the process.

“The intent is to bring quality applicants into the Coast Guard at a grade commiserate with their existing skillsets,” said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Edward Lewis of Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM). This new process will create accountability, foster collaboration, and build a tailored training program that will help the Coast Guard meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

For Lewis and the Working Group, balancing the need for new recruits with preserving the age-old values of the Coast Guard is paramount. “Our fundamental goal is to protect the culture of the Coast Guard,” Lewis emphasized.  “However, we must seek new methods of accession, training, and managing, talent that preserve our competitive edge as an employer of choice.

The LEWG is focusing on filling key roles to strengthen the service. “We are trying to ensure that our workforce can meet missions. We’re looking hard at places where we are shorthanded,” Lewis added. “The recruiting effort is really going to be driven by critical ratings,” including culinary specialist (CS), electrician’s mate (EM), and health service technician (HS). Depending on the outcome of this pilot program, other ratings may be added to this priority list in the future.

The new lateral entry determination protocols will be evaluated regularly throughout FY23.

If you have any questions, please contact Russell Kirkham at Russell.A.Kirkham@uscg.mil or 202-795-6848.



1970 – editorial cartoon run during the Kudirka Incident. Credit New York Times

A recent ALCOAST restates the Sovereign Immunity Policy with regard to Coast Guard vessels and aircraft. This is particularly relevant for units operating in the Persian Gulf and South China Sea, but it applies everywhere.

Since we operate mostly in US waters or nearby high seas, application may seem unlikely to most, but this is not just academic. For a real world example that caused the Coast Guard great embarrassment, let’s not forget the Simonas “Simas” Kudirka incident.

united states coast guard

R 061626Z OCT 21
ALCOAST 370/21
SSIC 3128
A. U.S. Navy Sovereign Immunity Policy, NAVADMIN 165/21
B. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
C. The Commanders Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations,
COMDTPUB P5800.7 (series)
D. United States Coast Guard Regulations 1992, COMDTINST M5000.3
E. Foreign Port Calls, COMDTINST 3128.1 (series)
1. This ALCOAST restates U.S. Coast Guard sovereign immunity
policy. The policies reflected in this document are based on
longstanding principles of international law. Accommodating
foreign State demands that undermine these policies not only erodes
protections in that particular situation but also risks establishing
precedent that may have long-term and wide-ranging negative effects.
Therefore, commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must adhere to the policies outlined in this
message. This message echoes policies outlined in REF (A), U.S.
Navy’s sovereign immunity policy, given the sovereign immune status
shared by vessel and aircraft of both services.
2. Under customary international law, and consistent with REFs
(A)-(E), manned and unmanned vessels and aircraft owned or
operated by a State, and used, for the time being, only for
government non-commercial service, are entitled to sovereign
immunity. Accordingly, such vessels and aircraft, wherever located,
are immune from arrest, search, and inspection by foreign
authorities, including inspections by or under the supervision of a
competent authority of areas, baggage, containers, conveyances,
facilities, goods or postal parcels, and relevant data and
documentation thereof for most purposes. Moreover, such vessels and
aircraft are exempt from certain foreign taxes, duties, or fees, as
well as foreign regulations that require flying a foreign State’s
flag or setting a compulsory pilotage requirement. Customary
international law further grants to commanding officers, officers-
in-charge, aircraft commanders, and masters the right to protect the
identity of personnel, stores, weapons, and other property aboard a
sovereign immune vessel or aircraft, as well as exclusive control
over any person aboard a sovereign immune vessel or aircraft
concerning acts performed aboard.
3. Although immune from arrest by foreign authorities, U.S. Coast
Guard vessels and aircraft shall comply with host country
requirements regarding traffic control, health, customs, and
immigration, to the extent such requirements do not contravene U.S.
Coast Guard sovereign immunity policy. In many instances, this
message and its references dictate how the U.S. Coast Guard complies
with such requirements. Noncompliance with any such requirement may
be subject to diplomatic complaint or host country orders to leave
its internal waters, territorial sea, or national airspace, but does
not change this policy’s requirements. Because adhering to this
policy may result in a country’s refusal or expulsion of an aircraft
or vessel, commanders must work with their legal counsel and embassy
teams early to understand port and airfield requirements including
international agreements or other arrangements which may apply.
4. Asserting sovereign immunity is a privilege of the U.S.
Government. Thus, waiver is not within the discretion of a
officer, officer-in-charge, or aircraft commander. An officer
exercising Tactical Control (TACON) is delegated authority to
interpret sovereign immunity policy consistent with overarching U.S.
Government policies and shall be notified by lower echelons via the
chain-of-command regarding challenges to asserting sovereign
immunity that cannot be resolved in favor of the policies set forth
in this message. Where TACON can execute this policy without
conflict with this message, no waiver is required. However, except
as provided herein, any action that may constitute a waiver or
potential waiver of sovereign immunity must be coordinated with
COMDT (CG-5R) in advance.
5. It is U.S. Government policy to assert full sovereign immunity
for U.S. Coast Guard manned and unmanned vessels, including cutters
and small boats, and aircraft. In addition to the general
privileges and obligations discussed in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this
message, which apply in full, the following guidance also applies:
   a. Searches, Inspections, and Requests for Information.
Per REF (D), paragraphs 4-1-28, and 4-2-10, and REF (E), commanding
officers, officers-in-charge, and aircraft commanders must not
permit a vessel or aircraft under their command to be searched or
inspected on any pretense whatsoever by foreign authorities or
organizations, nor permit any person within their vessel or
aircraft’s confines to be removed by foreign authorities. U.S.
authorities may themselves conduct consent, command authorized, or
other lawful searches or inspections and preserve evidence without
foreign officials being present, but evidence seized must not be
turned over to foreign authorities absent specific direction by
higher authority. Commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must not provide vessel or aircraft documents
or other vessel- or aircraft-specific information (excluding a
vessel’s public characteristics for purposes of appropriate pilotage
or berthing) to foreign authorities and organizations without the
approval of higher authority via the chain-of-command.
   b. Taxes and Fees. Payment of fines or taxes is prohibited
regardless of reasons offered for imposition. Appropriate charges
for pilots, tugboats, sewer, water, power and other required goods
or services may be paid.
     (1) Unless there is an international agreement to the
contrary, commanding officers, and officers-in-charge must refuse
to pay any tax or revenue-generating fee imposed on a U.S. Coast
Guard vessel or aircraft by a foreign sovereign. These taxes,
including port taxes, port tariffs, port tolls, port security
surcharges, port dockage fees, and other similar taxes or fees, are
impermissible. Commanding officers and officers-in-charge may pay
reasonable charges for goods and services requested and received,
less taxes and similar charges. If requested to pay an
impermissible tax or fee, commanding officers and officers-in-charge
should request an itemized list of all charges, pay reasonable
charges for goods and services requested and received, and explain
that under customary international law, sovereign immune vessels are
exempt from foreign taxes and fees.
     (2) If port authorities directly insist on payment of an
impermissible tax or fee, commanding officers and officers-in-charge
should seek assistance from higher authority and U.S. Embassy via
the chain-of-command. Whether the U.S. Coast Guard will directly
pay an impermissible tax or fee is a matter of overarching U.S.
Government policy. This decision may be based on other concerns
such as operational needs, contracting principles, and potential
fiscal liability.
     (3) If such taxes or fees are levied indirectly through a
Husbanding Service Provider (HSP) as part of a foreign fixed price
contract, such tax or fee may be paid as part of the contract price.
   c. Crew Lists
     (1) Commanding officers and officers-in-charge must not
provide a list of crew members (military and/or nonmilitary) or
passengers aboard a vessel to foreign officials under any
circumstances. In response to a crew list request, the host nation
should be informed that the United States exempts foreign sovereign
immune vessels visiting the United States from the requirement to
provide crew lists in accordance with (IAW) the same sovereign
immunity principles claimed by United States sovereign immune
vessels. When a host country maintains a demand for a crew members
list as a condition of entry into a port or to satisfy local
immigration officials upon arrival, seek guidance from higher
authority via the chain-of-command.
     (2) Absent an international agreement, a commanding officer
or officer-in-charge of a vessel may provide information about
personnel going ashore for a temporary time and for unofficial
purposes (e.g. liberty) to comply with a host country’s immigration
laws. However, if information is provided, it should include the
minimum amount of information required to comply with the host
country’s laws, and include no more than names (without rank), place
of birth, date of birth, and sex. A commanding officer should not
provide foreign officials with other sensitive or personal
information, such as social security numbers, rank, addresses, or
other specific information. Such liberty lists are not the same as
crew lists, even though they may contain the names of all
   d. Quarantine and Health Information Requirements
     (1) Under REFs (D) and (E), commanding officers, officers-
in-charge, and aircraft commanders must comply with all domestic or
foreign State quarantine regulations for the port within which the
vessel is located that do not contravene this sovereign immunity
     (2) IAW REFs (C) and (D), while commanding officers,
officers-in-charge, and aircraft commanders must not permit
inspection of their vessel or aircraft, they must afford every
other assistance to health officials, U.S. or foreign, and must
give all information required, insofar as permitted by military
necessity and security requirements. To avoid restrictions imposed
by quarantine regulations, the commanding officer should request
free pratique (clearance granted a ship to proceed into a port after
compliance with health or quarantine regulations) IAW that port’s
sailing directions.
   e. Flying Foreign State Flags. While sovereign immune vessels
are exempt from foreign regulations that require flying a foreign
State flag, U.S. Coast Guard sovereign immune vessels may fly
State flags to render honors IAW REF (D). Regional practices to
display marks of respect for host nations vary, and commanding
officers and officers-in-charge must consult with the operational
chain-of-command, theater- and fleet-specific guidance, and local
embassies for further guidance if host nation officials raise the
   f. Environmental Mishaps in Foreign Waters. If, after an oil
or hazardous substance spill in foreign territorial or internal
waters, a commanding officer or officer-in-charge determines foreign
authorities need more information to properly respond to the spill
and prevent serious environmental damage, the commanding officer or
officer-in-charge may release information similar to that releasable
to U.S. authorities. Before releasing spill-related information to
foreign authorities, the commanding officer or officer-in-charge
must seek guidance from higher authority via the chain-of-command
and, if release is deemed appropriate, inform the foreign
authorities that the ship or vessel is a sovereign immune vessel of
the United States and that spill-related information is being
voluntarily provided to help minimize environmental damage.
   g. Compulsory Pilotage. Article 4-2-3 of REF (D) authorizes
commanding officers and officers-in-charge of vessels to employ
pilots when, in the commanding officer’s or officer-in-charge’s
judgement, such employment is necessary. Inherent in such
discretion is the authority to refuse use of a pilot or to disregard
such pilot’s advice regarding a vessel’s safe navigation.
Accordingly, U.S. vessels may, but are not required to, employ
pilots as prudent. Except as provided in article 4-2-4 of REF (D),
commanding officers may, but are not required to, allow a pilot
onboard. If a nation sets pilot employment as a condition for
entering port or transiting their waters contrary to REF (D),
commanding officers must inform foreign authorities that the ship
or vessel is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States and
that pilotage services are being accepted voluntarily and not as
a condition of entry.
6. Commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and
aircraft commanders must adhere to the policies outlined in this
message and seek guidance from higher authority via the chain of
command in the event of ambiguity or prior to taking any action
that might constitute a waiver of sovereign immunity.
7. POC: CDR J. R. Styron, COMDT (CG-LMI-R), phone (202) 372-3798,
or by global email.
8. RDML Scott R. Clendenin, Assistant Commandant for Response Policy
(CG-5R), sends.
9. Internet release is authorized.

Observations on the New Naval Strategy

HMAS Success (AOR-304) refuelling probe goes in for a hook-up with the US Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Waesche (WMSL-751) as the Royal Australian Navy Auxilliary Oiler Replenishment Ship conducts a dual RAS (Replenishment at Sea) off the coast of Hawaii during the Sea Phase of Exercise RIMPAC 2014, 19 July 2014. (RAN Photo by Leading Seaman Brenton Freind RAN)

HMAS Success (AOR-304) refuelling probe goes in for a hook-up with the US Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Waesche (WMSL-751) as the Royal Australian Navy Auxilliary Oiler Replenishment Ship conducts a dual RAS (Replenishment at Sea) off the coast of Hawaii during the Sea Phase of Exercise RIMPAC 2014, 19 July 2014. (RAN Photo by Leading Seaman Brenton Freind RAN)

I know many of you do not have the time or inclination to read the strategy, although it is not particularly long for such a document, so in addition to commenting on the contents, I will provide a Coast Guard “Readers Digest” version outlining the elements that are specific to the Coast Guard.


In considering this strategy, it would be good to keep in mind this is not a strategy for war; it is a strategy for maintaining the peace, the sometimes violent peace that has become the new norm. As such, it assumes the Coast Guard will continue exercising its normal peacetime priorities. It does not define Coast Guard wartime roles or suggest how the Coast Guard might be shaped to be more useful in wartime.

If you look at the title, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready,” the words cooperative, forward, and engaged are particularly relevant in describing the thrust of the strategy.

It expects US naval forces to cooperate and engage with allied and friendly force both to improve relations and strengthen and encourage these friendly forces. The Coast Guard has a major role in this, in bringing expertise in a board range of governance functions that friendly navies and coast guards can relate to.

The Navy also expects to have a substantial part of its force “forward.” Not only forward but also geographically widely distributed. This violation of the Mahanian maxim to keep your battle force concentrated has been the norm for decades, but it has been a reflection of the preponderance of the US Navy that may be eroding. It is a calculated risk that the benefits of working with allies and being on scene to deal with brush fires, outweighs the potential risk of having an isolated Carrier Strike Group or Amphibious Ready Group overwhelmed by a concentration of hostile forces.

The strategy talks about surge forces, but frankly the potential is far more limited than it was when the Navy was larger. For the Coast Guard this “forward” strategy, combined with the apparently ever increasing concentration of US Navy forces in only a few homeports, has important implications. There are long stretches of the US coast that may be hundreds of miles from the nearest US Navy surface combatant.

If a suspicious vessel is approaching the US, that must be boarded to determine its nature and intent, the boarding is likely to be done by a Coast Guard cutter, and not by a National Security Cutter, but by something much smaller. The cutter is also unlikely to have any heavily armed backup.


Section I THE GLOBAL SECURITY ENVIRONMENT, talks about geopolitical changes since the strategy was last issued, and current military challenges.

Section II FORWARD PRESENCE AND PARTNERSHIP, looks at the specific areas of operation, specifically the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Africa, Western Hemisphere, and the Arctic and Antarctic.

Section III SEAPOWER IN SUPPORT OF NATIONAL SECURITY, talks about the strategy in terms of missions, broken down as “All Domain Access,” Deterrence, Sea Control, Power Projection, and Maritime Security.

Section IV FORCE DESIGN: BUILDING THE FUTURE FORCE, attempts to describe the future force that it contends will be “Flexible, Agile, and Ready.” It goes on to talk about Forces, People, Concepts, and Capabilities.

GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE: The plan starts getting into specifics regarding the Coast Guard when it talks about specific regions.

Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

“The Coast Guard will rotationally deploy National Security Cutters and deployable specialized forces with the Navy and Marine Corps to safeguard U.S. territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Additionally, the Coast Guard will work with regional partners and navies using joint and combined patrols, ship-rider exchanges, and multinational exercises to build proficient maritime governance forces, enhance cooperation in maritime safety and security, and reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. These multinational efforts are furthered through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative and participation in the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.”

Now I’m not sure what the first sentence is getting at. Usually when DETs deploy with the Navy, it is not for operations in the US EEZ, unless perhaps they are talking about the occasional deployment with ships transiting the US EEZ around islands in the Western Pacific, if so they might have been more specific. I don’t know why the strategy in several places refers to the National Security Cutter rather than simply cutters. I think this might have been an attempt to sell the NSC, which is a job now complete, but it frankly does nothing to justify the Offshore Patrol Cutter which can also do this type of work.

This is the first of several mentions of the Coast Guard’s potential for capacity building with navies and coast guards of friendly nations.

Middle East

The Coast Guard will deploy personnel to build partner nation capacity for maritime governance and simultaneously conduct maritime security, infrastructure protection, and Port State Control activities. Coast Guard patrol boats and deployable specialized forces on Navy and coalition ships will counter illicit maritime activity.

It does appear that the Coast Guard patrol boats in Bahrain are expected to remain there. Does this mean these now overage boats will be replaced in the future? Will they or their replacements receive weapons upgrades similar to those of the Navy Cyclone class counterparts?

Europe–No mention of the Coast Guard. Even so the CG will probably be involved in capacity building in Eastern Europe, as it has been in the past.

Africa–the Coast Guard is again mentioned in terms of capacity development and partnership station type activities. There is also interestingly a statement that a base will be developed in Africa.

Coast Guard District and Area Organization

Coast Guard District and Area Organization

Western Hemisphere

We will strengthen partnerships and capacity in the Western Hemisphere to protect the homeland and to counter illicit trafficking and transnational criminal organizations. Coast Guard recapitalization efforts will produce a fleet of highly capable, multi-mission ships and aircraft, including the Offshore Patrol Cutter and the C-27J Spartan maritime patrol aircraft to counter threats, particularly in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and eastern Pacific Ocean. The Navy will maintain its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to support joint and combined military operations and to enhance interagency efforts to develop regional security and cooperation. The Marine Corps will employ task forces or SPMAGTFs to support security cooperation activities that increase interoperability with regional partners and strengthen their capacity to interdict transnational criminal organizations. We will employ amphibious ships and other platforms, including Littoral Combat Ships, Joint High Speed Vessels, Afloat Forward Staging Bases, hospital ships, other Military Sealift Command ships, and Coast Guard platforms, to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions. We will also employ maritime patrol aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon and unmanned aerial vehicles. Other ships and aircraft will provide periodic presence for recurring military-to-military engagements, theater security cooperation exercises, and other missions.

That is the entire section. Surprisingly no specific mention of using Navy ships for drug interdiction. Use of Navy vessels is mentioned only in the context of “humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions” and “military-to-military engagements, theater security cooperation exercises, and other missions.”

Competing claims in the Antarctic

Arctic and Antarctic:

Consistent with the predicted growth in maritime activity, the Sea Services will assess Arctic access and presence needs, improve maritime domain awareness, and pursue cooperation with Arctic partners to enhance the maritime safety and security of the region. This will require us to further develop our ability to operate in the Arctic, including in ice-covered and ice-obstructed waters. The Coast Guard will apply the multi-mission capabilities of the National Security Cutter to provide a tailored seasonal presence for command and control and aerial surveillance, and will begin the design process for a new, heavy icebreaking capability to support operations in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The Coast Guard will also pursue the formation of a maritime assistance, coordination, and operations group, open to members of the eight Arctic Council nations. The purpose of this group will be coordination of multinational search and rescue operations, training exercises, maritime traffic management, disaster response, and information sharing.

Again this is the entire section. DOD Maritime Domain Awareness is going to be very important here, and apparently it is already good. Looks like the Navy is content for the Coast Guard to be the face of US Naval presence in the Arctic. Again there is reference to the NSC which is not ice-strengthened and no mention of the OPC which is.

MISSION PERSPECTIVE: The Strategy refers to five essential functions–all domain access, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security.

All domain access: Not surprisingly there is no mention of a Coast Guard role in kicking in the door.

Deterrence: “The Coast Guard maintains a continuous presence in our ports, internal waterways, along our coasts, and offshore, providing an additional layer of defense against maritime threats.”

Cutter Owasco (WHEC-39) unreps while engaged in Operation Market Time off the coast of Vietnam.

Sea Control: There is no mention of a Coast Guard role in Sea Control. There should be. Sea Control frequently involves Visit, Boarding, Search and potentially Seizure of non-military vessels, e.g. merchant and fishing vessels. The Coast Guard is ideally suited for this role and has conducted this type of operation in war zones in the past, notably the Markettime Operation during the Vietnam War. In fact the common Coast Guard missions of drug and alien migrant interdiction are forms of sea control that potentially protect the US from non-state actors, but these missions are reflected in the Maritime Security mission.

When it comes to counting assets that might be used to exercise sea control, the Navy has roughly 110 cruisers, destroyers, frigates, LCS, and patrol craft and many of these, particularly the 85+ cruisers and destroyers, probably will have higher priority missions. The Coast Guard includes over 100 patrol boats and about 40 larger patrol vessels that routinely exercise sea control on an almost daily basis.

Force Projection: No mention of a Coast Guard role in Force Projection.

121203-G-XX000-001_CPO Terrell Horne

Maritime Security: It is here that the Coast Guard truly comes into its own.

We conduct maritime security operations by locating and monitoring vessels suspected of carrying illicit cargo or persons. If required, we intercept and board these vessels in support of U.S. law or international sanctions. Operating with the Coast Guard’s unique legal authorities, naval forces combat the illegal drug trade, human trafficking, and the unlawful exploitation of natural resources, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. Maritime security operations further support the broad maritime governance activities of the United States. These include assuring access to ice-covered and ice-obstructed waters in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Because all nations share in the collective benefits of maritime security, it is a promising area for expanded cooperation with our allies and partners. Through multinational exercises and training, we will conduct maritime security force assistance to combat transnational organized crime and protect fisheries and maritime commerce. This function supports the naval missions of defending the homeland, protecting maritime commons, and strengthening partnerships.

WPC Kathleen_Moore


There is not a lot here specific to the Coast Guard. There is discussion about acquisition and personnel policies, but they appear to reflect Navy Department aspirations.

There is potential in the concept of modularity for allowing Coast Guard assets, particularly cutters, to more rapidly transition to a wartime outfit.

This section includes a listing of projected required capabilities tied to each of the missions discussed above. It is in the Maritime Security section that we find statements relevant to the Coast Guard and its missions:

To combat terrorism, illicit trafficking, piracy, and threats to freedom of navigation in the maritime domain, we will:
■ Increase our capabilities in integrated maritime detection, monitoring, and intelligence, along with those of our allies and partners, to improve global maritime domain awareness. This involves exploring more stringent Automated Identification System reporting requirements for vessels weighing less than the currently mandated 300 tons, as well as fielding innovative technologies that enhance effectiveness against the small vessel threat.
■ Strengthen the International Port Security Program to further ensure the integrity and legitimacy of commercial vessels and cargo traveling to our shores.
■ Enhance our interoperability and capability to perform visit, board, search, and seizure in contested environments.
■ Improve interoperability between Navy and Coast Guard vessels, aircraft, and shore facilities, in accordance with the National Fleet Policy to maximize sea control and maritime security capabilities.
■ Support our allies and partners through training, exercises, and the provision of capabilities, via foreign military sales and financing, to increase their capacity to address maritime security challenges.



This is not a war plan so much as a plan for preventing war. From a Coast Guard perspective, it has largely canonized the status quo and the existing recapitalization program of record. It recognizes the Coast Guard’s unique authorities and its ability to contribute to capacity building. It seems to promise greater integration of a multiservice Maritime Domain Awareness.

On the other hand it does nothing to define Coast Guard wartime missions or how it might transition to a wartime footing. The force structure section does nothing to inform the design of Coast Guard equipment so that it might be more useful in wartime. It also does nothing to help that Coast Guard patrol boat I talked about at the beginning that is about to attempt to stop and board a potential hostile vessel that may be about to make an unconventional attack on a US port.

This is only the second iteration of the three service cooperative strategy. It is a marked improvement in specificity over the previous document. Hopefully there will be a process of continual improvement in succeeding editions.