As Somali piracy seems to have quieted down Indian Ocean, the problem has gotten worse in the Gulf of Guinea, along the Atlantic Coast of West Aftrica. gCaptain is reporting the European Union is making an effort to help navies and coast guards in the area.
Not long ago a cutter was in the area as part of the US Navy administered Partnership program. The Deployable Operations Group trains their personnel, and Nigeria was the recipient of the former USCGC Chase, one of our retiring 378s.
The idea of “influence squadrons” has been kicking around the Navy for a while now. The idea is an expansion of the “partnership” stations that the Coast Guard has participated in (here), (here), and (here). Information Dissemination offers some background and has a proposal for implementing these concepts and he sees the Coast Guard as an integral part of it.
Specifically he suggests that we test the concept off the Horn of Africa (Somalia and adjacent territory) by deploying an influence squadron in October of 2011. In addition to the LEDETs and Deployable Operations Group personnel you would expect, he would like to include, “The USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750), which will work in cooperation with regional Coast Guards to establish fishery protection operations and training around Somalia.” He did not mention the Fast Response Cutter, but vessels like these were including in the original concept of the influence squadron and they are the type of small ships that we might offer our allies in the area through the Foreign Military Sales program (aircraft) (boats). This not only helps the ally, increasing the total size of procurement can lower the unit cost for the Coast Guard as well.
In “New Fiscal Year Reflections ” there is also a call for the Navy to “put its money where its mouth is” in terms of implementing a cooperative strategy or support someone who will (the Coast Guard).
“Either the US Navy needs to make the strategic commitment to the low end and have this reflected in shipbuilding with vessels more appropriately sized for engagement with Coast Guard sized fleets of regional partners, or advocate for a larger US Coast Guard to take up that responsibility as part of the National Fleet. Including smaller vessels as part of the US Navy fleet isn’t a tactical choice as it is framed by Naval leaders; it is a strategic choice the US Navy decided against, despite the rhetoric of their own strategy.”