“ENHANCING EXISTING FORCE STRUCTURE BY OPTIMIZING MARITIME SERVICE SPECIALIZATION”–CIMSEC

Fourth HC-144A delivered

Photo: The Government of Mexico purchased four CN235-300M aircraft (similar to the Coast Guard’s HC-144A). Oct. 1, 2010, the Foreign Military Sales program awarded a $157.9 million contract to EADS North America to produce these aircraft. The fourth and final delivery took place May 2, 2012, at EADS’ facility in Seville, Spain. Photo courtesy of Airbus Military.

CIMSEC has an interesting post that postulates a greatly expanded leadership role for the Coast Guard. In many ways it is radical, but I think it may be the way we are headed.

It suggests an enlarged role in international maritime policing and Foreign Military Sales. That probably implies intelligence collection and distribution.

“Under the umbrella of muscular law enforcement, the Coast Guard would manage not only patrols of the American coast, but also patrols off South America and Africa as well.”

That may already be close to reality in the SouthCom AOR.

The author describes a standard “frigate” that could very well be the Offshore Patrol Cutter:

“The principal requirements would be low cost, ease of maintenance, and margins for growth. The basic warship would have a simple power plant, enough systems to operate as a minimalist patrol ship, and substantial space and weight left available for additions.”

“Built cheaply and in large numbers, flotillas of these semi-modular ships would patrol for pirates off Africa, drug smugglers in the Gulf of Mexico, or vessels in distress off North America.”

He also sees a role for these ships in Amphibious Assaults.

“…the amphibious train would be escorted by frigates (based on the common hull introduced above) specialized with the maximum number of naval guns possible. With these frigates, the amphibious force would be able to defeat enemy forces in waters too constricted for the blue-water warships to operate effectively.”

We have seen a growing Coast Guard role in Foreign Military Sales with the delivery of hundreds of boats to dozens of nations, new 87 foot patrol boats going to Yemen, and maritime patrol aircraft going to Mexico. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to see OPCs or Webber class WPCs being sold to our allies and friends, possibly funded in whole or in part by US Foreign Military Assistance.

There may be minor issues with his vision. I might argue that in accordance with the post’s logic, force protection should be under Coast Guard management, but generally his views are sound. It is surprising to see so much of a post by a former E-2C/D Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer devoted to the Coast Guard. The whole post is worth a read.

It is a Theme

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting on testimony of VAdm. Charles Michel before the House Transportation subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation. As we have seen so many times recently, the Deputy commandant for Operations is pointing out that we simply do not have enough cutters to act upon all the intelligence we have for counter-drug operations. (If you look at the actual testimony, he also covers much more.)

It seems the Commandant and his staff have been repeating the same story at every opportunity.

I think they are doing the right thing. The Commandant makes a convincing case for why the country should want to do this. The other theme that accompanies it is the need for three heavy and three medium icebreakers, and the fact that the Coast Guard cannot afford to build them without a substantial budget increase.

It seems the Commandant and staff are doing their best to make a case for more money for shipbuilding. They are using the DHS Fleet Mix Study to point to the need for even more cutters than provided in the program of record and the “High Latitude Region Mission Analysis” to justify the Icebreakers.

I could point to additional shortfalls including the dearth of assets in the Western Pacific, but it looks like the Commandant has chosen his battle, and he is fighting it with determination.

The question now is, is anyone really interested in the Polar regions and our neighbors in Latin America and the problems created by the criminals that run the drug trade there.

Counter-Drug help from Canada?

HMCS Ssaskatoon, Mar. 2007, Photo by Rayzlens

HMCS Saskatoon near Esquimalt, British Columbia and A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter that is practicing personnel transfers. Date March 2007 Photo by Rayzlens

The Canadians have been helping with Drug Interdiction Operations. They call it Operation Caribbe, but if I read between the lines correctly, their participation may be increasing.

Some changes are expected in the composition Canadian Navy, and in the way they operate. For the next few years, their fleet is going to be reduced by two supply vessels and two destroyers and their crew members are to be diverted to the twelve Kingston Class “Coastal Defense Vessels” that are normally manned only by reservists, and to more intense boarding training.

This should allow the Kingston class to be underway more, and I would expect they will want to work with Coast Guard LEDETs. They are already being employed in counter-drug ops. In March four were deployed for this purpose. Being relatively slow and having no helicopter deck, they may not be ideal for counter-drug operations, but they have proven useful.

These little ships are similar in size to 210s, shorter but beamier, and 30 years younger.

Displacement: 970 t (970.0 t)
Length: 55.3 m (181.43 ft)
Beam: 11.3 m (37.07 ft)
Draught: 3.4 m (11.15 ft)
Propulsion: 2 × Jeumont DC electric motors
4 × 600 VAC Wärtsilä SACM V12 diesel alternators
2 × Z drive azimuth thrusters
Speed: 15 kn (27.78 km/h)
Range: 5,000 nmi (9,260.00 km)
Complement: 31 to 47

The Canadian Navy’s intent,

The Kingston-class ships are staffed entirely by the naval reserve. Under the new plan, the ships will be staffed 60 per cent by reserves and 40 per cent by the regular forces. That still doesn’t account for everyone, and the navy says sailors on land will focus on more advanced boarding-party and anti-terrorism training.

Hopefully the Coast Guard may be seeing even more of these little ships.

 

Defense News Interviews the Commandant

DefenseNews.Com just posted a three part video interview with the Commandant. Each segment is five to ten minutes in length.

Impact of Sequestration: http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221471/

The Commandant notes, in the first two months of 2015 we have seized more drugs than we seized in all of 2013. He talks about establishing priorities and specifically mentions the Arctic and Western Hemisphere Drug enforcement.  He did not say what will drop out.

Capability vs Affordability http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221423/

The Commandant has quite properly put emphasis on the OPC, and he has hit the point that spreading out procurement will cost more in the long run. He talked about icebreakers and discussed how we will need help funding them. He is pushing the results of the previous High Latitude study, saying the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers.

Coast Guard Modernization http://www.defensenews.com/videos/defense-news/2015/03/01/24221467/

Here he repeated themes from the State of the Coast Guard address. The importance of defending against Cyber attacks both within the Coast Guard and in the larger Maritime Transportation industry, the formation of an Arctic CG forum, and making the Coast Guard a hostile environment for those that might attempt sexual assault.

Observations

Seems the Commandant has recognized the need to sell the service and push for more funding, particularly for AC&I. It would not hurt to see the rest of the Coast Guard repeating the themes that he seems to have focused on, to make sure the message gets delivered.

The Commandant will continue to focus on the six major topics he highlighted in the State of the Coast Guard Address. Specifically I expect to see a lot more Coast Guard effort in the Eastern Pacific Transit Zone; we will continue to hear that the US needs three heavy and three medium icebreakers as the Commandant pushes for supplemental icebreaker funding; less obvious, but I think he is laying the ground work for an attempt to speed up the OPC construction schedule which would require at least another $500M annually in the AC&I account. There will be a lot more emphasis on cyber and tougher action on sexual assault. In terms of the objective of “maximizing return on investment,” I think we will see closer examination of fuel efficiency, manning, and other operating economies as a basis for where to invest modernization dollars.

CIMSEC–Narco Subs

CIMSEC continues their series on “non-navies” with “Narco-Submarines: Drug Cartels’ Innovative Technology,” by Byron Ramirez. It provides an overview of the state of narco-sub development, employment, and countermeasures. It also announces the imminent publication of an unclassified study, “Narco-Submarines – Specially Fabricated Vessels Used For Drug Smuggling Purposes,” to be released by the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO).

Drug Enforcement Return on Investment

FierceHomelandSecurity is reporting on testimony of both the Commandant and the Commander of SouthCom, Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, before a joint hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Foreign Affairs subcommittees.

“Joint Interagency Task Force South, which is part of Southcom and includes the Coast Guard, (other–Chuck) military services and other agencies, seizes the majority of the cocaine bound for the United States, said Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, the Southcom commander. Yet it receives only 1.5 percent of the federal government’s total counternarcotics budget, he said.”

Commandant Adm. Robert Papp, who appeared alongside Kelly, said that in the past five years, the Coast Guard seized more than twice the amount of cocaine as all domestic law enforcement agencies – federal, state and local – combined.

Over the last five years, Coast Guard ships and law enforcement detachments operating in the offshore regions have removed more than a million pounds of cocaine with a wholesale value of nearly $17 billion. This is more than two times the amount of cocaine seized by all other U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies combined.

While I have my own reservations about the effectiveness of efforts to restrict supply, if you are going to attempt to cut supply, it sure looks like funding Coast Guard efforts should be the first place to put your money.

UK Border Force

As you may know, while the UK does have a coast guard, it is not much like the US Coast Guard. Nevertheless all the tasks remain. Their UK Border Force, which is part Customs, part TSA, and part Coast Guard, is their organization for addressing drug and alien migrant interdiction problem. Apparently they are using a patrol boat design which is a bit larger than the Webber class WPCs. Specs and video on the last link.

Intercept That Drug Runner–Sorry, Not Enough Ships

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/USCGC_Hamilton_%28WHEC-715%29.jpg

File:USCGC Reliance WMEC 615.jpghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ea/Thetis_cutter_WMEC-910.jpg

There have been several articles recently as a result of a breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, chief of the U.S. Southern Command, reporting that SouthCom is intercepting only one in three drug shipments that they know about. He sited diversion of assets for combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and operations off Libya, Somalia, and Iran.

One thing I found very curious, as noted in the AOL defense report, “Fraser focused on Navy vessels and did not specifically address the Coast Guard, which does contribute some ships to Southern Command operations.” Why the hell not?

The General reported a decline in our ability to intercept drug shipments.

At sea, Fraser explained, the U.S. Navy is retiring the smaller ships that have traditionally been the mainstay of drug interdiction patrols, the aging and increasingly expensive to operate Perry-class frigates, while their much-delayed replacement, the Littoral Combat Ships, is just beginning to enter service. “We ‘ll see a gap in the numbers of those types of ships,” Fraser said. “So we’re working with the Navy to see what other types of vessels and capability that’s coming back from Iraq might be available,” particularly small craft that have been used for river patrol and offshore patrol in the Gulf. Such boats could boost the U.S. fleet’s own interception capability but also, and perhaps more importantly, some could be transferred to friendly countries that are currently short on assets to intercept drug boats moving through their own territorial waters.

Nationaldefensemagazine.org also reported he made reference to the possibility of terrorists entering the US by using the drug smuggling routes.

There was much made of the lack of assets available to partner nations.

Here is a proposal, The Coast Guard still has 10 WHECs and 29 WMECs that are due for replacement. If we can get them replaced, we can turn them over to partner nations. That should essentially totally eliminate any shortage of vessels in SouthCom. The sooner we replace them the more useful they will be.

Why couldn’t the General have put in a good word for the Coast Guard?

Combating Transnational Organized Crime (TOC)

The Administration has recently published its “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime” (TOC).

There is commentary from Stewart M. Patrick at Council on Foreign Relations here and from Chris Rawley at Informationdissemination here.

This is certainly a topic that deserves some attention, particularly with the emergence of apparent links between terrorists, criminals, and hostile state actors.

The “strategy” is fairly long and general. It includes 56 “priority actions,” so once again we have decided to do everything everywhere–When you have 56 priorities, you have no priorities.

There is only one specific reference to the Coast Guard. In the section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Strengthen Interdiction, Investigations, and Prosecutions,” the Coast Guard does not get a mention, although ICE, CBP, and Secret Service do.  It does include the following, as one of ten priority actions in this subsection, “Strengthen efforts to interdict illicit trafficking in the air and maritime domains.” for what that is worth. The section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Disrupt Drug Trafficking and Its Facilitation of Other Transnational Threats” includes the following reference to the CG, “We must attack these organizations as close to the source as we can by forward deploying our law enforcement and intelligence assets. All-source intelligence is used by U.S. Coast Guard assets in the transit zone to extend our borders by interdicting and apprehending traffickers.” I’m not sure why that was in a strategy, but there seem to be examples of “good work” agencies are doing throughout the document that suggest this is more PR than an actionable plan.

The Section “Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Start at Home: Taking Shared Responsibility for Transnational Organized Crime” which talks about efforts to stem the flow of guns south from the US to Mexico does raise the question in my own mind, Is the Coast Guard attempting to stop the shipment of weapons out of the US by sea?

The document has some interesting material. If it had a different title, I might have been less critical, but unfortunately this is not a strategy, which would have identified objectives, forces allocated, actions to be taken, and milestones to be achieved. There is no attempt to identify the enemy’s Center of Gravity or “Schwerpunkt.” This is just a series of laundry lists–of threats, programs that have had some success, things we hope to accomplish, and conferences to be held, without any application of judgment or priority.

 

Giving More than 100%–Part 2, Missions and Resource Hours

This is a continuation of a look at a report the Department of Homeland Security presented to Congress regarding Coast Guard mission performance begun in part one.

The report divides the Coast Guard’s 11 missions into Department of Homeland Security Missions and Non-Homeland Security missions as follows (percent of hours associated with each mission is in parenthesis):

Homeland security missions include:

  • Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security (25.25%)
  • Drug Interdiction (11.22%)
  • Migrant Interdiction (10.60%)
  • Defense Readiness (7.82%)
  • Other Law Enforcement (foreign fisheries enforcement) (0.93%)

Non-Homeland Security Missions include:

  • Marine Safety (7.32%)
  • Search and Rescue (8.16%)
  • Aids-to-Navigation (14.05%)
  • Living Marine Resources (domestic fisheries enforcement) (13.12%)
  • Marine Environmental Protection (0.41%)
  • Ice Operations (1.12%)

The first thing you may notice is that the “Homeland Security Missions” were Coast Guard missions long before the creation of DHS.
This distinction is artificial. DHS seems fixated on terrorism. Once the DHS is reconciled to the fact that they are the department responsible for disaster prevention, response, and mitigation regardless of whether that disaster is natural, accidental, or a terrorist attack, then they will see that the remaining Coast Guard missions are also to some extent DHS missions.  (Notably the previous year when GAO testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,  “Drug Interdiction” and “Other Law Enforcement” were listed as non-homeland security missions.)

Marine Safety and AtoN help prevent accidental disasters. Living Marine Resources and MEP help prevent environmental disasters. Any SAR case is at least a small scale disaster for those involved. SAR can be a major part of disaster mitigation as in the case of Katrina or Haiti. The SAR organization is the frequently the basis for post disaster communications. Even Ice Operations can mitigate the possibility of flooding by preventing the accumulation of water behind Ice dams that may release catastrophically–all good DHS missions.

As noted in part 1, the report seems to miss a signifiant part of the Coast Guard’s operation, but for now lets look at what it does show. We will look at Measures of effectiveness later.

General:

The report actually covers the entire period from 2001 to the present and compares current operations with a baseline established on the basis of eight quarters prior to 9/11. One important item is that although total resource hours declined since 2005, hours are still up considerably compared to pre-9/11 levels, up from a little less than 500,000 hours to 717,992 hours, so a decline in percentage doesn’t necessarily reflect a decline in activity.

Homeland Security Resource Hours:

Hours increased significantly as might be expected, 115%, from a baseline of a bit less than 200,000  to 400,742.

Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security: By far the greatest percentage of hours (181,264 hours/25.25%) was taken by ports, waterways and coastal security missions. Resource utilization is up ten fold from the baseline after peaking in 2003/4/5.

  • So what are these Cutters and aircraft doing? Mostly patrolling.
  • Did we do patrolling before? Yes.
  • So if they saw an oil spill, a SAR case, or a suspected drug smuggler, would they ignore it? No.

So maybe we ought to add another 25.25% to MEP, another 25.25% to SAR, and another 25.25% to Drug interdiction. Still do we patrol enough? The vessel and aircraft related measures of effectiveness targets are being exceeded. But the targets are abominably low, considering we are dealing with events with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Drug Interdiction: Hours are down 34% from the pre-9/11 baseline from a little over 120,000 down to 80,564. Here we are getting substantial help from DOD but that doesn’t show up in the hours, and the efforts of our LEDETS, like those of the small boats, are also not reflected by the resource hour measure.

Undocumented Migrant Interdiction: Up more than 150%  to 76,100 hours. Reportedly we are achieving record high interdiction rates.

Defense Readiness: Hours are up considerably, to 56,128 hours or 7.82% but the baseline was ridiculously low at what looks like less than 7,000 hours or less than 300 unit days. The results have been poor with little improvement expected until the National Security Cutters and Fast Response Cutters replace the 378s and 110s.

Other Law Enforcement: (6,686 hours 0.93%) The number of hours has bounced around quite a bit by percentage (now 19.2% below the baseline). The entire effort is less than 280 unit days, but the service is exceeding its performance goal by a wide margin.

Non-homeland security

Non-Homeland Security hours (317,250 hours or 44.18%) dropped below the baseline in 2002/2003/2004 but are currently slightly above the baseline.

Search and Rescue: SAR Hours are down more than a quarter, from over 80,000 to 58,607 hours or 8.16%. Even so, we are meeting our performance objectives. SAR hours are demand driven. In 2005, hours were still below baseline, but bumped up 14.8% from 2004 as a result of Katrina. Hopefully we will be able to do more rescuing and less searching as a result of innovations like Rescue 21. The depressed economy may have a role here too.  If we were a SAR only organization we would have to fly or get underway just to train and maintain proficiency. As it is, much of the proficiency training is done working on other missions, so perhaps we should credit a few more percentage points to the hours we spend on SAR.

Marine Safety (52,579 hours 7.2%): The Coast Guard did not even report commitment of resource hours to Marine Safety before 2005. I’m still not sure what we are doing with this much cutter and aircraft time that effects the number of commercial mariner and commercials passenger deaths or injuries (two of the three measures of effectiveness) Most of these hours must go to Recreational Boating Safety (the third measure of effectiveness). This may be another way to count patrol hours.

Aids to Navigation: AtoN hours show a drop from the baseline of about 10% to 1000,904 hours, but it is still 14.05% of the current total. Improved reliability of aids appears to have made this possible without a drop in service.

Ice Ops (8,033 hours/1.12%): This category is primarily a reflection of ice conditions on the Great Lakes and navigable waterways that can fluctuate substantially year to year. It says very little about our Arctic capabilities, long in decline.

Living Marine Resources (94,178 hours/13.12%): Hours declined after 9/11 but now slightly exceed pre-9/11 baseline.

Marine Environmental Protection (MEP) (2,949 hours/0.41%): Like Marine Safety, MEP recorded no resource hours committed before 2005. Hours are down over 40% since 2005, but in FY2009 we exceeded our goals for prevention of chemicals and oil discharges per units shipped. There were no performance measures specifically related to safety of or pollution from offshore wells. I suspect most MEP work is not done by the cutters and aircraft included in this report, but that we will see a big increase in MEP hours when figures come out for FY2010. In the minds of most people, fisheries enforcement, both “Living Marine Resources” (domestic fisheries) and “Other Law Enforcement” (foreign fisheries) is a form of “Marine Environmental Protection.” Perhaps we need to group them with regulation of the chemical and petroleum industries and pollution clean-up under an expanded Marine Environmental Protection Program, so that there will be a better appreciation of what the service does.

Conclusion:

Traditional Coast Guard missions continue within the Department of Homeland Security. They have not been neglected.

For the Coast Guard to have gone from less than 500,000 resource hours to consistently over 700,000 hours, a more than 40% increase, when there has been no substantial increase in assets and as the average age of the assets increased has got to be a strain.

Coming in Part 3: Performance Measures and Where the Problems are.