“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.