The public opinion pendulum seems to be swinging away from the post-9/11 clamor to enhance our homeland security readiness, even while the threats to the US proliferate and evolve. What does that mean for a service that is both a law enforcement agency and a military service?

The Coast Guard’s dual military/law enforcement status is a rare exception to posse comitatus, which requires the service to balance Title 10 and Title 14 responsibilities. In its law enforcement capacity, the Coast Guard must be judicious in its observance of legal procedures and careful to cultivate the trust of the American public. As a military service that provides critical capabilities to the Joint Force, the Coast Guard must train and equip for defense operations that demand a combat-oriented skillset and ethos. Recent events remind us of why it remains important to keep those roles distinct, even as our enemies make it ever more difficult to distinguish criminals from combatants.

Law enforcement agencies in the United States recently came under national scrutiny as a result of indications that the public is growing alarmed at the “militarization” of US police forces. The civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri brought the issue to a head when images of local police confronting protestors while outfitted with camouflage uniforms, heavy body armor, and assault rifles streamed across major media outlets with the effect of further escalating the already volatile situation. The controversy over police wielding military-grade equipment elicited a promise for Congressional review by the Senate Armed Services Committee and a personal letter from House Armed Service Committee member Duncan Hunter to Defense Secretary Hagel encouraging a formal review of a federal program that allows DoD to transfer excess military equipment to police forces.

This latest outcry reminds us of an inexorable truth: free societies tend to vacillate about their desire for security. From Athenians condemning Themistocles to exile after the Persian menace waned, to the widespread vilification of the Patriot Act within the US only a few years after its near-unanimous passage, history demonstrates a consistent pattern wherein an existential threat will motivate the populace to demand greater security from their government, only to later denounce those same security measures once the threat appears to dissipate.

For the US Coast Guard, the recent backlash against militarized police is cause for reflection. The Coast Guard relies on a high degree of public confidence to maintain its dual status as both a law enforcement and military organization. Any erosion of that confidence compromises its ability to fulfill its diverse mission set. Yet there can be little doubt that it has adopted a much more overtly military appearance in recent years. The twin catalysts of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina produced major organizational changes in the service’s missions, capabilities, and identity. The most readily-apparent difference is the enhanced security posture the service adopted to mitigate the terrorist threat to the homeland. The Coast Guard added Maritime Safety and Security Teams and a Maritime Security Response Team, and aligned itself closer to the Department of Defense both for Homeland Defense missions and contingency operations abroad. Coast Guard response boats patrol our waterways with crew-served weapons mounted, armed Coast Guard helicopters circle the Capitol daily, and Coast Guardsmen perform a variety of maritime security missions in SWAT-like tactical gear. The result is that the Coast Guard’s public image has evolved from a primarily humanitarian, life-saving and law-enforcement service that performs a combat role in time of war, to one that remains all of those things, but also wields distinctly-military capabilities close to home and in full view of the American public.

Coast Guard MSRTSo far, the Coast Guard has not been subjected to the condemnation currently being heaped upon other domestic law enforcement agencies. However, with public confidence in government nearing an all-time nadir and many Americans weary of war abroad and enhanced security measures at home, the service must consider how it will continue to balance its domestic security responsibilities with its humanitarian and law enforcement missions.

That balance promises to grow ever more difficult in the future. Once-clear lines separating criminals from terrorists and military forces are blurring into amorphous inter-dependent networks labeled simply “irregular threats.” Confronting irregular threats and irregular warfare (CIC/IW) garners a lot of attention within DoD, but its ambiguous nature frustrates attempts to frame a consistent interpretation of where such threats transition from a law enforcement to a military responsibility. The Coast Guard seems ideally suited for taking a lead role in the CIC/IW mission due to its statutory authority and operational capability to act in both capacities, but there is risk to that approach because American principles have historically required maintaining a bright line between the two. The challenge for the Coast Guard will be determining how best to leverage the authorities and capabilities that make it well-adapted for CIC/IW, while remaining within legal boundaries and out of the crosshairs of public condemnation. Equally challenging will be preserving the service’s humanitarian reputation (critical for gaining access to regions wary of US military presence) while some Coast Guard sub-communities evolve to more closely resemble their DoD brethren.

Relaxing the Coast Guard’s domestic security posture is certainly not the right answer. Doing so would be a gross abdication of its homeland security responsibility. Many will recall that the modal conclusion that emerged from numerous post-9/11 “how did this happen?” tribunals was that the clues were there that should have alerted us to improve our security measures, but for a variety of reasons we choose not to. The universal vow that followed was “never again.” Thirteen years hence, we are perhaps reaping the consequences of our own success (at great cost and sacrifice that few fully comprehend) in preventing another major attack on the homeland. To many, the threat is simply not salient enough anymore to justify remaining loaded for bear on the homefront. Yet compared to the current security environment, the decade leading up to 9/11 seems like a halcyon era of relative tranquility. Bin Laden is dead, but that fact is little solace amidst the unraveling of Iraq and Syria, rampant narco-violence throughout the Western hemisphere, sophisticated horizontal weapons proliferation to non-state actors, and technical accelerators that are producing dangerous new capabilities available for commercial consumption. At no time in the nation’s history has “semper paratus” demanded a higher degree of readiness from its Coast Guard.

So how does the Coast Guard maintain necessary readiness without triggering the ire of a war and security-weary public?

Foremost, it must have a convincing strategic narrative that informs the public why an assertively-postured Coast Guard is in their best interest. That narrative needs to clearly detail the nature and magnitude of the threat, what capabilities the Coast Guard needs to confront that threat, and why the Coast Guard’s enhanced domestic readiness does not undermine American civil liberties or detract from its humanitarian missions.

USCG AUFThe Coast Guard has done pretty well in this respect so far. The avuncular “Smokies of the Sea” image from the 80s and 90s evolved into “America’s Maritime Guardian” and the “Shield of Freedom” images after 9/11. Media coverage of the service during the Hurricane Katrina response and on popular television shows such as Coast Guard Alaska and Miami help to educate the public on the breadth of the missions that the Coast Guard performs. But more work remains. Evolving attitudes toward issues that the Coast Guard is directly involved with promise to invite more scrutiny into how and why the Coast Guard performs some missions. For example, how does growing support for legalization of certain drugs affect the cost/benefit calculation of further prosecuting the drug war and the related threats posed by narco-terrorism? Does it continue to justify, for example, employing airborne use of force against non-compliant drug smugglers? What about illegal immigration? Those and other missions will certainly come under scrutiny in the future and the Coast Guard must be ready to justify its policies. The best way to maintain support for robust interdiction capabilities is to reinforce their importance to maritime security and conduct them with irreproachable skill and professionalism.

Communicating a clear strategic narrative is not just for public consumption. The Coast Guard needs to internalize it as well. Coast Guardsmen need to understand the precarious balance that their unique status demands and why that requires going out of their way to avoid any instance of excessive force or unwarranted intimidation. That obligation is nothing new. The same guidance traces back to a passage from a letter written in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton to commanding officers of the Revenue Cutter Service (predecessor to the Coast Guard) that remains required reading for all Coast Guard law enforcement personnel:

“They will always keep in mind that their countrymen are freemen, and, as such, are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit. They will, therefore, refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult. If obstacles occur, they will remember that they are under the particular protection of the laws and that they can meet with nothing disagreeable in the execution of their duty which these will not severely reprehend. This reflection, and a regard to the good of the service, will prevent, at all times a spirit of irritation or resentment. They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty–by address and moderation, rather than by vehemence or violence.”

However simple that passage might appear, it may at times prove difficult in practice. Law enforcement and combat require very different mindsets and training approaches, even if some of the missions and capabilities overlap. The potential conflict between developing a resilient “combat ready” mentality that facilitates effective action under fire and ingraining restraint and humanitarian sensitivity was highlighted in the “Kill Company” case study, and explored in Lt. Col David Grossman’s book On Combat. “Cool and temperate perseverance” is appropriate in the course of normal operations, but reacting to a situation that suddenly changes from law enforcement use of force to rules of engagement (such as happened here and here), or homeland defense such as interdicting an inbound terrorist attack, requires the ability to instantly shift mental gears. Because of the diversity of Coast Guard missions and unpredictability of the threat environment, Coast Guardsmen must be ready to instantly transition from one extreme to the other.

The challenge remains to further refine the Coast Guard’s strategic narrative in what promises to be a tumultuous future. The Coast Guard must remain an outstretched hand that saves and a clenched fist that defends; a conscientious maritime constable and a combat-ready naval force. In looking for an effective narrative to emulate, it would be difficult to find one better than the 2003 “All Hands” that General Mattis sent his Marines on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His succinct, three-paragraph message concluded with “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘no better friend, no worse enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.” Guided by a similar maxim, the Coast Guard will ensure that the public it protects continues to feel reassured, not threatened by its presence, while those who seek to perpetrate violence or criminality at sea can count on a formidable and ready “maritime guardian” standing by to oppose them.

Posted by LCDR Craig Allen, USCG in Coast Guard
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  • Bob Walters

    The war on terrorism was a gigantic waste of money brought about by the fear mongering of the cowboy administration. It is important to be wary and increase vigilance but it is not necessary to flush rights down the toilet with actions like the Patriot Act and torture. Living in a free society is never safe that is one of the prices of freedom and I refuse to live in fear. However, to involve the Coast Guard in any demilitarization is truly dumb. That is the problem with lumping it in with the Department of Homeland Security. I have never been convinced that we needed a Reichsinnenministerium here in the United States the desire for that kind of desire for security leads to Fascism.

  • DDC

    The Coast Guard is nothing like the militarized police forces we see across the United States. First of all, the USCG is MUCH more selective in who it brings in, is standardized across the nation in its rules and procedures with respect to law enforcement, and is maritime in nature. Sure, there are a few “coasties” here and there filled with testosterone-laden ignorant bravado, but they in no way define the character of the CG. It is the character flaws which are revealed by small-time, local police being armed to the teeth by military-grade hardware we should fear. The USCG, while adapting to the times, has not changed the essence of its mission and focus like the organizations we are discussing.

    Besides, until the Coast Guard figures out a way to drive a cutter down the streets of our home towns and act like an occupying force I doubt very seriously most of the people of the US will notice.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and I’m pretty sure you’ll continue to be respected by the people as I do.

    • CuriousTownshipVoter

      “the USCG is MUCH more selective in who it brings in, is standardized across the nation in its rules and procedures with respect to law enforcement.”
      Nope. Not even close.
      – Selection: Even the most poorly-trained civilian police officer has passed a police academy; Boot Camp is not the police academy, and neither is BTM training. BTW PQS is not a Field Training Program. BO school approaches the number of hours of a civilian police academy, but Use of Force training in particular lags far behind and might not even meet the standards mandated by case law. The Coast Guard is lucky in that they don’t have many uses of force, so there hasn’t been any scrutiny of their training and policies by the courts. That doesn’t mean that policies are sound, it just means that no one has really tested them.
      – Training, rules and procedures: Yes, they’re standardized. Outside of the DSF community, they’re also about 15 years behind civilian LE. Coast Guard members also suffer from the fact that unlike a civilian police officer, they CAN be charged with a crime for violating policy, since under the UCMJ policy is a lawful order. Then there is the issue of firearms; IF the Coast Guard is “MUCH more selective” about who it employs, why are civilian police officers trusted enough to be allowed to carry an agency-issued weapon 24/7/365? There isn’t even consensus whether or not a BO letter allows off-duty carry of a personal firearm, and the question of whether or not the Coast Guard will back a member under LEOSA was answered with a pretty disappointing “don’t bet on it.”

      I’m not even going to go into the whole “militarized police force” argument, except to say take a look at the NYPD in the 1930’s and tell me again about how “militarized” we are now. Modern PPE and vehicles does not equal “militarized”.

      • Chad Carlson

        Ummm fyi A boarding officer letter does not fulfill the requirements under LEOSA.

      • CuriousTownshipVoter

        Exactly. How many times has that changed since LEOSA was passed?

        There are two things that a civilian LEO does that shows that the USCG is not serious about LE. They can make a decision to arrest without consulting higher authority, and they are trusted to carry firearms and exercise LE authority when off duty. The issue has never been the statutory authority of the USCG, it has been a chain of command that is often paralyzed by a risk averse/”what’s in it for my OER” culture that as a result doesn’t trust members with actual law enforcement authority or responsibility.

      • Chad Carlson

        It was revised a year or two back and the coast guard doesn’t meet the credential requirements

      • CuriousTownshipVoter

        You keep making my point for me, Chad.

      • Chad Carlson

        No, you asked a question using a “?” so I replied, and as far as selection goes your previous comment of poorly trained police offers attending an academy , that is not a “selection” the selection has already been made hints you are now allowed to enter or attend the academy, much like going to boot camp. And yes NO school does meet the requirements as it’s a Federal Law Enforcement Academy, same school ICE , CBP, and other agencies attend. And I don’t understand the use of force comment as it’s identical to many other police agencies. We conduct quarterly scored use of force scenario training just like police agencies. Not to mention weekly LE training.

      • CuriousTownshipVoter

        Having been through both processes multiple times, the selection that takes place on the civilian side is orders of magnitude above the selection that takes place in the USCG.

        Let’s compare the USCG to the NYPD (Because of similar size). First of all, NYPD requires 60 college credits to even sit for a written test to be eligible to join. After that is agility, a pretty thorough background investigation, a psychological test, a polygraph, a medical exam and an interview. All of that is compete for a spot in an academy that is six months long, followed by another six to nine months of field training. Between 15 to 20% don’t make it off of probation.

        “it’s a Federal Law Enforcement Academy, same school ICE , CBP, and other agencies attend”
        Just because it’s at FLETC doesn’t make it the same. It definitely doesn’t meet the requirements for an 1800 series GS equivalency. BTM and BO together are 35 days over seven weeks – about 280 hours of training. That falls a little short of the 1,040 hours of training at the NYPD academy, or even the 600 hours of academy training that is the average nationwide. That doesn’t even include the field training time, or the number of hands-on arrests & uses of force that a civilian officer will experience in comparison to a USCG BO over a similar period of time.

        As far as use of force, Commandant’s UoF Policy, or any policy that uses a stair-step/continuum model, is directly opposed to Graham v. Connor. The only constitutional requirement for force is that it be reasonable. Not minimal, and there is no requirement to use lesser levels of force as long as the force used in the moment is reasonable. This is what I am talking about when I say that the USCG is by and large 15 years behind civilian LE.

        “We conduct quarterly scored use of force scenario training just like police agencies. Not to mention weekly LE training.”

        But who is doing the scoring? Are they “scoring” from experience or out of a book? People without first-hand experience teaching things like use of force, DT or firearms tend to end up just repeating what they were told, and they have no way of evaluating if it’s valid or not because it’s never been tested in the field.
        As for your “weekly LE training” – again, who is doing it? Are they just repeating what they heard in school or reading a lesson plan that they were handed when they became the LEPO?
        “Barney Fife”, OTOH, is getting weekly training too – as well as 40+ hours of actual field experience enforcing the law and making decisions.

        I understand you have to be a “company man” and I appreciate that you might not have the same perspective, but believing that USCG LE training is anything close to equivalent to local, state or federal LE is dangerously myopic.

  • LT James Daffer

    LCDR Allen,

    Great article sir!

    This is an incredibly salient topic and one worth exploring, though I think that the Coast Guard is well shielded from the public backlash against militarized police forces. The primary issue today is the increasingly common use of SWAT teams or other specialized law enforcement units for routine, domestic enforcement. The WSJ produced a highly informative article on the subject titled ‘Rise of the Warrior Cop.’ Many local police departments have created SWAT teams using excess military articles, and even NASA and the Department of the Interior both have SWAT-like teams. The number of raids in which local SWAT teams are used has risen from a few hundred in 1970 to more than 50,000 by 2005.

    When the LAPD introduced the SWAT concept in the 1960’s, it faced substantial scrutiny due to the perceived blurring of the lines between National Guard, the military, and police forces. Despite being envisioned purely as a means to respond to highly volatile domestic strife that the force were unprepared to respond to safely, today SWAT teams are used overwhelmingly for routine drug raids, and have also been used to deliver ‘no-knock’ warrants for penalties as simple as illegal gambling in a private garage (which as we all know, are carried out by highly dangerous and hardened criminals).

    As a federal and military agency with an ‘avuncular’ reputation to most of the public that we interact with on the water (perhaps the gulf coast fishing community notwithstanding) perhaps we don’t have need to question the future of the MSST or MSRT or worry about their perception. We just need to ensure their efforts remained focuses on their foundational purposes – When MSRT begins fast-roping onto 30 foot center consoles, throwing it’s passengers to the deck and loudly demanding to see their lifejackets and sound producing device, then we’ll have a problem. I don’t see that happening.

    Great Article!

    LT James Daffer

    • excoastie!

      Just for the record LT Daffer during my time on a Msst team 90% of our law enforcement was conducted on ” 30ft center Consoles” or otherwise small mom and pop rec boats! While we might not have fast roped on board all of them we did conduct the boarding in full tactical gear with 240s front and rear and a boat full of other auto weapons and tactical gear.

    • Yellowk9

      LT Daffer and DDC,
      While I, too, agree that this is a well written and thought provoking article. That’s the extent of my agreement with you. I am currently a Boarding Officer-Certified Ashore and Training Petty Officer for an operationally active USCGR boarding security team. I am also a civilian police officer in a major metropolitan area where I’m a lead firearms instructor, Taser instructor, and a field training officer.

      Many of your two comments are based on ignorance and/or speculation. DDC starts off with the USCG being more selective than civilian law enforcement agencies. Thankfully, that’s been nicely debunked here by others. However, your remark about fearing local police with “military grade hardware” is disconcerting considering these are the very men and women you would call upon for a neighbor dispute, a fraudulent credit card charge, a stolen car, an armed robbery, or even a barking dog. Your opinion is either based upon your extremely limited exposure to police officers or the media. If it’s limited exposure, then that’s like saying my 6th grade gym teacher was an asshole, so all teachers are. As for the media…really? The media? They simply want to sell.

      But LT goes a little farther and almost questions the validity of any police upgrade, organizational or equipment. First of all, the use of the word “routine” in any law enforcement discussion signals an immediate narrow mindedness. It maybe cliché, but it’s dead on true..there is no such thing as routine in police work. People die with that type of mentality. And your continuing comment and seemingly smartass remark implying that hardened criminals do not gamble is not really worthy of an extended response. Again, narrow mindedness.

      To the both of you and others, on average, over 58,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted each year with almost 16,000 injuries. And a police officer is killed in the line of duty every 53 hours. Outside of Senior Chief Horne in 2012, I can not recall the last time a USCG member was killed in the line of duty during an enforcement action.

      As for “military grade hardware”, most would include the semiautomatic rifle, the AR15, cousin of the M16. Let’s ask the City of Pittsburgh Police Department why they need “military hardware”. In April 2009, officers responded for a domestic complaint…the family dog had pissed on the rug and now the mother and son were arguing. When the first officer arrived on scene, he was ambushed as he entered the doorway by the son who now had an AK47 and wore body armor. Two more police officers would be killed by that sh!tbird before he was taken into custody. Did you know that up until that day, Pittsburgh PD did not have a patrol rifle program? Those patrols officers were seriously over matched by superior firepower. As such, they were unable to rescue one officer whose life probably would havee been saved.

      So respectfully, do us a favor, especially since we’re supposed to be relatively on the same team, please keep your uneducated, inexperienced “facts” to yourself. But if, by all means, you truly wish to expand your knowledge bases, I welcome you with open arms…because you will be surprised what policing is like in the United States. In many places, it’s war zone.

      J. Pfaehler
      Police Corporal and USCGR Boarding Officer

      • cw

        Ex coastie here…former BO, MLE Instructor, ML.E instructor trainer, DWO, left CG and became a state law enforcement officer for 4 years and eventually a federal agent for the past 15 years and now have a BS in Criminal Justice Administration. I have, and continue to work alongside CG. While i recognize that everyone has a different experience and opinion, mine is respectfully contrary to yours. i left CG with my head held high after achieving every qualification and certification with regards to LE. However, i found out very quickly that my 2 week BTM, 4 week BO, and the other quals and certs and years of CG experience is areas considered some of CG’s busiest stations gave me minimal value in terms of true LE experience and training. if you need a group of willing bodies with guns as a show of force, CG is the call you make but you will not get solid tactics, good on scene decision making, proper use of force decisions, scene preservation, an understanding of the elements of a crime, interviews or interrogations, written statements that convey PC, and certainly wont see a coastie walking away with an arrest (other than handcuffing and detaining) for another agency to worry about all of the above. i dont intend for this post to come across as being anti CG, i just think in a true side by side analysis from personal experience, the CG is not in the same category as a police officer / LEO. not better, nor worse, just a different category.

  • Scott Gaillard

    I do not see a problem with a “militarized “military branch/COASTIES … I have a problem with Barney Fithe in a APC with a damn gun turret manning a SAW

    • CuriousTownshipVoter

      Did you actually SEE any belt fed machine guns in Ferguson?

      By the way, the attitude that civilian law enforcement officers are “Barney Fife” and USCG LE personnel are somehow better trained than a civilian officer is an opinion not backed up by facts.

  • Bill Wells

    This quote, ” The Coast Guard must remain an outstretched hand that saves and a
    clenched fist that defends; a conscientious maritime constable and a
    combat-ready naval force” may the problem. There are so many images involved in being all these positions at the same time that the public (and the people in the Coast Guard) have no real picture about the Coast Guard.

    The Coast Guard looks at itself as “One Coast Guard.” The idea that since 1789 every so-called legacy agency is part of the Coast Guard; all melted into one block without any lines of definition or purpose. This idea came from the 1930s when then Commandant (this was a rank more than a title)Harry Hamlet had problems with service identity. Was the Coast Guard a humanitarian or military outfit? The question came from the lack of the ability to merge the old USRCS and USLSS. Since 1915 they remained as separate as they had been before the 1915 act creating the Coast Guard. Despite the numerous ramblings of popular histories there was no merger of the two treasury agencies. There was no intent to merge them. It was part of the deal made in the Congress to create a military service of the RCS and, second, to give the LSS a retirement system.

    The cultural divides are still in tack. Had it not been for World War II and the Coast Guard finally wrestled control of the Life Boat Stations away from the old sand pounders. However, urban legend and romantic wishful thinking kept the LB Stations more or less as they were in the pre-war era to include enlisted designations that only served the stations a matter that was not extended to the old Light House Service taken over in 1939. World War II temporarily broke the hold the Coast Guard Academy had on the make up of the officer corps only to return after the war with a few additions from the former Bureau of Marine, Navigation and Inspection bureau — like the LHS, a Department of Commerce entity.

    If the Coast Guard wants to be all things to all people then it must recognize that it is not a “One” but a many and culturally varied service. Then set aside the parts and operate the Service on that basis. It would be a challenge but in the end most would be happier. The marine inspectors could then drop the pretense of being sea going people and the LB Stations could adopt another uniform. Of course, Coast Guard Aviation has already made both adjustments because that arm is a shoot off of the LSS and has not been a military part since inception

    • Excoastie!

      CG is a jack of all trades, master of none!

  • Ian

    Actually, the Coast Guard is NOT “MUCH moreselective of who it brings in.” I was a Coastie. And I am currently a deputy sheriff. While the Coast Guard is far more selective than the other four branches of the military, it is far LESS selective than civilian law enforcement. No where in the non-special operations community of military are recruits/service personnel subjected to the batteries of interviews, psychological evaluations, polygraphs, field training, peer evaluation; then. more oral boards and interviews as civilian law enforcement are… and all BEFORE being granted status as a solo operating deputy/officer. Enlisting in the Coast Guard took less than a month, followed by 8 and a half weeks of basic training. Becoming a deputy from first submitting an application to being released from FTO (and I was never extended) took more than a year.

  • Ross

    Does anyone here know about physical fitness standards for police? I have personally not seen am overweight BO or BTM but I have seen many grossly overweight cops. If these police forces are indeed as selective as some on here insist how can the allow their people to become so overweight?

    • excoastie!

      Ross try this! Let’s see if your Coast Guard law enforcement “training” will transfer to any other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. After you get out. I was a CG BO/BTM for 8 years, and it helped me zero to get my current Federal LE job. Only thing the CG did was get me hurt bad enough to get me a medical discharge which made me a 10 pt veteran which kinda helped in the federal hiring process. It took me 4 years after I got out to get enough experience in local LE to even be considered for my federal LE job.

      • ross

        Wow… Bitter much? You also did not reference anything that I was asking about so what you posted really didn’t belong as a response to my post. Just saying

  • Uscg99506

    I’m just here for the comments…. Anyone have popcorn?? Oh yeah I’m also a coastie but I get my kicks filing LES’s.. Love it

  • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

    One thing that the USCG has going for it is the fact that it is perceived primarily as a “safety/rescue service” and not as a “military” service”.

    Another thing that the USCG has going for it is the fact that (probably) the majority of the things the public sees it doing are things that the public wants to see it doing.

    Yet another thing that the USCG has going for it is the fact that it tends to get REALLY good PR publicity when it is doing the things that the public wants to see it doing.

    My impression is that (in general) the USCG brings “enough firepower” to a situation to convince the other parties involved to take them seriously and not to (sorry about the bad pun) “make waves” UNLIKE the news coverage of the urban police departments which sometimes looks like they are using an Abrams tank to issue a jaywalking ticket.

    [ASIDE – Mind you the urban police forces also suffer from the fact that neither they nor the general citizenry really “understand the rules for holding a riot” the way that the citizenry and police forces in Hong Kong did/do.]

  • Squid

    Perhaps not surprisingly, all of you seem to be looking at this from the USCG’s side. Step back and take a look from the view of a recreational boater.

    Imagine…beautiful summer day…out on a 21-ft open boat with your wife and children. Wife happens to have on a bikini. That draws the interest of the heavily armed USCG boat passing by. No laws were broken, no probable cause existed…so the need for a safety check arises. At high speed the orange boat approaches from astern, commands to stop come over the loud hailer. 19-year old manning a machine gun on the bow.

    The boat pulls along side, banging into your boat. Next come the demands to know where you are going and where you have been, along with all your safety equipment…issued very sternly from a young man dressed like a SWAT team member with a life jacket.

    I’ve never been stopped at gunpoint by the local police, no have I ever been stopped by the local police when no probably cause existed. I’ve never been pulled over and had my safety equipment examined by an ambulance crew or a fire department…

  • Factz

    At best we have guardian at the ready, but the for what is a vast and broad topic, Seal team or MSRT when the hostage scenario happens, exprience trump availability and will always dictate but a SWAT,Seal,or FBI team over coast guard , so our tactical operators train and wait, build facilities to train or house trained, and yet play the wallflower at the dance…budget wise a waste and transitionally skills learned as well. But we do pay civilian gate guard, trainers, and recruit youth with the picture of man in tactical gear with gun. This will never change, sometime you need a show of force to ramp up a big picture to stop the thought of action from the enemy….So there we are Semper P, Ready to carry out the first general order of military.