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.