Author Archive

Last week I again had the pleasure of joining my colleagues to discuss the nation’s maritime security challenges. This time at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo 2009. The panel included the CNO, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the acting Maritime Administrator. The topic was “Sea Power and America’s Security.”

This was a great session, about 90 minutes long, with some really frank and candid conversation on some of the more serious issues and challenges we are dealing with now and trying to prepare for in the future. Half of the time was dedicated to Q&A from the audience. For my part, in the introduction I briefly covered the following topics:

* Current performance.
* Operations on the Southewest Border, and more specifically, the importance of counter-drug operations off Mexico’s southern border.
* The Cooperative Maritime Strategy and its importance especially considering how the Coast Guard, Navy and Marines all “meet in the littorals”.
* The status of operations off Iraq.
* The status and our role in the QDR & NOC.
* Coast Guard force capacity challenges.
* Coast Guard in theater security cooperation.
* Acquisition update, including status of NSC and FRC platforms.
* Importance of modernization.

It was a great round of Q&A. This was clearly an informed audience with real interest in these critical topics. The discussion specific to the Coast Guard covered:

* Countering piracy, specifically questions about the possibility of arming vessels or employing convoys, legal frameworks, etc.
* Arctic policy, specifically the status/condition of our polar icebreaking fleet and the revised National Security Policy Directive issued in January as well as the need to ratify UNCLOS.
* Coast Guard impressions of the LCS platform and future plans for the leased PC-179’s being operated by the Coast Guard.
* Maritime Domain Awareness and the thread of continuity between the vehicles used in the more significant maritime security threats. Specifically, small unregulated and/or unregistered vessels including self-propelled semi-submersibles, the maritime conveyance for the Mumbai attack and vessels involved in piracy.

A video of the entire session is available .

USCGC BOUTWELL round-the-world deployment

USCGC BOUTWELL round-the-world deployment: The Pakistani Tariz-class frigate Tippu Sultan passes United States Coast Guard high-endurance cutter Boutwell during a formation exercise. Boutwell, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain, and ships from seven other countries are participating in the multi-national naval exercise AMAN, an Urdu word meaning peace. The 10-day exercise focuses on air, surface and maritime security training and includes representatives from 38 countries as well as ships from 11 nations to include the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan and Australia. Boutwell and Lake Champlain are deployed as part of the Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

While onboard BOUTWELL this week in Djibouti, crewmembers had the rare opportunity to say “Hi” to their loved ones back home while they circumnavigate the globe supporting the 5th, 6th and 7th fleets. You can see their videos here (check back over the next couple days, we have more to upload).

Let’s try a social media experiment and show your support to the crew of BOUTWELL by sending them your thanks and best wishes. You can do it three ways:

— Comment to this post
— Leave a post on their fanpage
— Comment on individual videos in the photobucket

I encourage other milbloggers to take on this experiment and see how much support we can send toward the crew of the BOUTWELL from the blogosphere!

We will be sure they get all the messages, but we are sure they and their loved ones will also be checking themselves.

Here are some examples of what BOUTWELL has been up to:

BOUTWELL Conducts Training with Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) (Feb. 4-7)

Three Day Engagement Visit to Chochin India (Feb. 17-20)

Law Enforcement Symposium with Maldives National Defense Force (Feb. 21-24)

BOUTWELL participates in the Multi-national exercise, AMAN 09 (Mar. 5-14)


Posted by TAllen in Navy | 2 Comments

I discuss the Coast Guard’s ongoing role in contributing to the broader efforts to halt piracy over on iCommandant:

Piracy has been rightfully called an insult to civilization. The recent pirate attacks on the motor vessels MAERSK ALABAMA and LIBERTY SUN focused the attention of the American public on what has been an increasingly significant international issue. It is important that the American public and the international community know that the U.S. Government is working hard to find an enduring international solution to this international problem. Read More

Additional information on combating piracy:

Coast Guard’s history combating piracy — Fighting pirates since 1793
The Coast Guard’s role in international piracy incidents

The DOG’s perspective. — Interview with RDML Tom Atkin by PA1 Adam Eggers

We will keep you posted…


Cross posted from my blog:

In light of our current support to flood rescue operations in North Dakota we have received queries that prompted me to share some insights on the Coast Guard’s roles and authorities in civil support.

The Coast Guard’s core roles are to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America’s coasts, ports, and inland waterways.

The Coast Guard provides unique benefits to the nation because of its distinctive blend of military, humanitarian, and civilian law enforcement capabilities. Most recently, you have seen this in play as the Coast Guard has worked so closely and effectively with local and state first responders to protect the citizens of North Dakota, accounting for 93 rescues so far. What the Coast Guard is able to do and what it does in support of civil authorities will always be based on our legal authorities, capabilities, and mission requirements as determined by the needs of the specific event or scenario, always based on consultation with local, state and Federal agencies.

Using the North Dakota floods as an example, the legal authority for these operations stems both from the Coast Guard’s authority to conduct search and rescue and our ability provide assistance to other federal, state and local agencies when our personnel are especially qualified to do so.

14 U.S.C. 88 provides, in relevant part:

In order to render aid to distressed persons, vessels, and aircraft on and under the high seas and on and under the waters over which the United States has jurisdiction and in order to render aid to persons and property imperiled by flood, the Coast Guard may: (1) perform any and all acts necessary to rescue and aid persons and protect and save property…

14 U.S.C. 141 provides:

The Coast Guard, upon request, may use its personnel and facilities to assist any Federal agency, state, territory, possession, or political subdivision to perform activities for which the Coast Guard is “especially qualified.” This does not extend Coast Guard law enforcement authority (i.e. the Coast Guard does not gain the LE authority of any agency to which it is rendering assistance). Assistance meeting the “especially qualified” standard would include the employment of drug dogs, specialized equipment or techniques, use of vessels or aircraft, and other unique Coast Guard capabilities, but would not authorize Coast Guard personnel to engage in law enforcement activities ashore beyond the scope of organic Coast Guard law enforcement authority.

In this case, the capabilities at play are the Coast Guard’s expertise in and resources for search and rescue operations, particularly in maritime regions, including inland rivers. The mission requirements are met by continual coordination with local and state officials facilitated by representation at their county and state emergency operation centers.

Now, let’s move beyond current events in North Dakota, and look at other ways in which the Coast Guard can provide support to civil authorities. To start, here are some of the keystone Coast Guard law enforcement authorities:

14 U.S.C. 89: Authorizes the Coast Guard to go onboard any vessel subject to the jurisdiction or operation of any law of the United States, whether on the high seas, or on waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, in order to make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the U.S.

33 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.: Under the Ports & Waters Safety Act, Coast Guard Captains of the Port have extensive authority to control the anchorage and movement of vessels, establish safety and security zones in U.S. ports and waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction; control the entrance and departure of vessels from U.S. ports, and take other actions with respect to vessels, ports and port facilities to prevent or respond to various types of threats and hazards from terrorist acts to environmental hazards.

46 U.S.C. 70118: Authorizes limited law enforcement activities for Coast Guard personnel ashore at maritime facilities. While at facilities, Coast Guard personnel may make arrests without a warrant, but only for offenses against the United States committed in the presence of the officer. This also authorizes Coast Guard personnel to carry a firearm in the performance of their official duties – wherever located.

14 U.S.C. 95: Grants law enforcement authority for Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) special agents commensurate with special agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, in the enforcement of statutes under which the Coast Guard has law enforcement authority or under exigent circumstances. This authority is applicable to shoreside investigations & law enforcement activity.

When you take a look across the broad spectrum of Coast Guard authorities (the above being just a few of the more relevant), and then examine our capabilities, you are able to begin developing potential options for employment of Coast Guard support to civil authorities beyond our regular maritime safety and security operations. Examples include (these are neither definitive, nor all inclusive):

— Command and Control (C2) – The Coast Guard could provide both qualified personnel and deployable and mobile equipment support to provide or enhance C2 capabilities.
— Law enforcement technical support – This could include bomb and drug detection equipment, including canine teams.
— Air operations – Coast Guard aircraft could augment and assist with surveillance, transportation, airlift, and other logistic support.
— Intelligence – Coast Guard personnel, including CGIS Special Agents, could assist in intelligence collection and analysis.

It is important to understand that these operations are in addition to normal mission requirements and the Coast Guard is not staffed, equipped or appropriated to sustain these without additional support. In some cases, it may be necessary to call on our critical Coast Guard Reserve for additional capability and capacity. Attached is a table that describes who can call up Reservists, under what type and duration of recall, based on what events/declaration. /Reserve_Authorities.pdf

To summarize, our support to civil authorities will always be based on our legal authorities, capabilities, and the specific mission requirements as determined by consultation with other state, local and Federal partners and tailored to fit the situation at hand. Close adherence to this formula allows us to effectively and efficiently apply our broad authorities and unique capabilities for the best benefit of the American public, always consistent with Federal law and in close cooperation with local officials.

Posted by TAllen in Coast Guard | 2 Comments

I routinely receive “Two-and-a-Half Minute” presentations from various Coast Guard programs at our weekly All-Flags briefing. I thought readers of the USNI Blog would find this week’s topic particularly interesting. 

The Cooperative Maritime Strategy states:

…maritime forces will be employed to build confidence and trust among nations through collective security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests in an open, multi-polar world. To do so will require an unprecedented level of integration among our maritime forces and enhanced cooperation with the other instruments of national power, as well as the capabilities of our international partners. Seapower will be a unifying force for building a better tomorrow.

One way we are doing this in the Coast Guard, working closely with the DOD and DOS, is through our Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Through FMS we:

  • Build partner capacity
  • Gain access and influence
  • Improver interoperability and standardization

Value of Coast Guard Foreign Military SalesThis is the Cooperative Maritime Strategy in action! 


The FMS program is currently running 32 procurement projects valued at $96.8 million. This is nearly a three-fold increase in dollar value since 2006! Since its establishment in 1997, the program has delivered 201 vessels with another 88 pending.

The maps below show the strategic reach and impact of this effort, and these are not all inclusive. Other nations receiving FMS vessels include several Caribbean Island nations(9 vessels), Central America(13), Bangladesh (21), Pakistan(5), Philippines(3), and Sri Lanka (1). The sales and deliveries are closely coordinated with our international training program and delivered as a “Total Package.” This includes, spare parts, documentation (pubs and manuals), as well as training.

Foreign Military Sales to South AmericaCoast Guard Foreign Military Sales to Africa, Europe and the Middle Eastern nations

The FMS program marries international engagement with good stewardship. By increasing the customer base of a specific platform we reduce the risk of our acquisition by achieving economic order quantities and stabilizing production rates. This particularly valuable as we progress with our recapitalization program. We are currently assisting Mexico in procuring the new CASA Maritime Patrol Aircraft and there is strong interest from several nations in South America, Africa and Asia to purchase our new Response Boat – Small, Response Boat- Medium and patrol boat platforms.

Just one more small but significant way the Coast Guard is working to do its part…

Related posts from iCommandant:

Out of Hemisphere Deployments

Coast Guard in Iraq

Dealing with Piracy — What is your Endgame

Counter-Drug Symposium — Transnational threats that require transnational solutions


New Presidential Arctic Region Policy

Cross Posted from iCommandant

Admiral Allen surveys the summer ice

Observing the summer ice floes from HEALY, Aug 2008.

On January 9, 2009, the President signed the Nation’s new Arctic Region Policy, National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25. This document, which replaces the Arctic section of PDD-26, establishes comprehensive national policies that recognize the changing environmental, economic, and geo-political conditions in the Arctic and re-affirms the United States’ broad and fundamental interests in the region. The Directive takes into account altered national policies on national defense and homeland security, the effects of global climate change and increased human activity in the region, as well as a growing awareness that the Arctic is both fragile and rich in natural resources.

NSPD 66/HSPD 25 specifically establishes that it is the policy of the U.S. to:

– Meet national security and homeland security needs relevant to the Arctic region
– Protect the Arctic environment and conserve its biological resources
– Ensure that natural resource management and economic development in the region are environmentally sustainable
– Strengthen institutions for cooperation among the eight Arctic nations
– Involve the Arctic?s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them
– Enhance scientific monitoring and research into local, regional, and global environment issues.

Secretary Chertoff met with local leaders in Barrow Alaska while visiting the Arctic Region, August 2008

The development of these policies was a collaborative effort involving myriad stakeholders and, in many ways, marks the first step in the United States taking an active role in the region. Much work remains to be done and we look forward to working closely with our partners at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, the Arctic nations, appropriate international forums, and the private sector to develop the requirements, action plans, and best mix of resources needed to implement these policies. The following highlights just a few of the specific Coast Guard implications in the new policy. These are by no means all inclusive. As you read these understand that we can accomplish nothing on our own. Every aspect of this directive overlaps the responsibilities and interest of several parties and agencies. Continued collaboration, cooperation and communication will be the keys to success. Also, as we have been, we will Involve the Arctic’s indigenous communities in decisions that affect them.

National and Homeland Security Interests

The Arctic region is primarily a maritime domain and the Coast Guard will continue to apply the following policies and authorities, including law enforcement:

– Freedom of Navigation
– U.S. Policy on Protecting the Ocean and the Environment
Maritime Security Policy
National Strategy for Maritime Security

The U.S. will exercise sovereignty within our maritime boundaries and over the continental shelf while preserving Freedom of the Seas. Implementation of this policy requires the development of greater capabilities and capacity to operate in the region to protect our borders, increase Arctic domain awareness and project our presence in the region. This will require close cooperation with our partners the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

International Governance

The Coast Guard’s main role in this capacity is to represent the U.S. in the International Maritime Organization and other appropriate forums to develop international agreements to ensure effective governance mechanisms, including Arctic-specific regulations to ensure safe, secure, environmentally friendly maritime activities. These efforts will be closely coordinated with the Department of Transportation and Department of State and will also serve to advance multi-national cooperation in the region. We will look at how to expand our highly effective partnerships established through the North Pacific and North Atlantic Coast Guard Forums to meet the objectives of this directive.

Continental Shelf and Boundary Issues / Promoting International Scientific Cooperation



The Coast Guard will continue to support the necessary research efforts by the National Science Foundation and others through the use of Coast Guard resources for scientific support to establish the outer limit of the continental shelf to the fullest extent permitted under international law.

Maritime Transportation in the Artic region

U.S. priorities for maritime transportation in the Arctic are to facilitate safe, secure and reliable navigation; protect maritime commerce; protect the environment.

This requires the Coast Guard to work with its interagency partners, the Arctic nations, and regulatory

USCGC SPAR operating off the North Slope

USCGC SPAR operating off the North Slope

 bodies to establish infrastructure to support shipping activity; search and rescue response; aids to navigation; vessel traffic management; iceberg warnings and sea ice information; shipping standards; and protection of the marine environment.

Environmental Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources

The Coast Guard will work collaboratively to develop environmental response strategies, plans and capabilities working with the Departments of Energy and the Interior. We will also enforce any international or domestic fisheries laws developed for this unique region in coordination with NOAA and NMFS from the Department of Commerce.
I commend all of the participants who helped to develop this comprehensive Arctic Region Policy over the last two years. For the men and women of the Coast Guard, and the partners we work next to every day, this is just the beginning of the work to be done to ensure that we expand our superior mission execution to the increasingly significant Arctic region, consistent with the President’s intent.

I just posted this over on my official blog, thought it might be interesting for reading/discussion here:


This post provides more detail following the meeting at the White House today per my earlier post.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy released an interesting report today on illegal drug use in the United States. Of particular interest to you would be pages 10 and 11, discussing the impact of increased seizures and their correlation to a dramatic increase in price.

We are just one part of this critical effort, but it is an important part. Campaign Steel Web is the Coast Guard’s overarching drug interdiction strategy to reduce the supply of drugs to the U.S. by denying drug traffickers access to maritime routes in the six million square mile transit zone. The National Drug Control Strategy sets a 2014 target to interdict 40 percent of the cocaine en route the United States. The Coast Guard and our interagency partners have diligently worked to achieve this goal, producing significant interdiction successes in the transit zone (Eastern Pacific, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico) in recent years. Working with our interagency and international partners, the Coast Guard removed 369,833 pounds (167.8 metric tons) of cocaine in FY 2008—the most in our history. The Coast Guard has removed, on average, 328,964 pounds (149 metric tons) of cocaine from the transit zone each year between fiscal years 2004-2008, the five highest removal years on record. These record removal rates can be attributed to three primary factors:

(1) More actionable, tactical intelligence: Through interagency cooperation, the Coast Guard benefits from the joint Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice investigative task force known as Panama Express (PANEX), which provides real-time, actionable, tactical drug-related intelligence to the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) South in Key West, FL.

(2) More capable interdiction assets: The Coast Guard has more capable assets in its armed helicopters and faster over-the-horizon cutter small boats. Through employment of Airborne Use of Force (AUOF) by the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Tactical Interdiction Squadron (HITRON) and the United States, Dutch and British Royal Navies with Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) embarked, the Coast Guard is able to stop the small, fast, 45-plus knot vessels carrying multi-ton loads of cocaine.

(3) Negotiation of international agreements with our partner nations: Since 1981, the Coast Guard, in cooperation with the Departments of Justice and State, has negotiated 27 bilateral agreements with our drug interdiction partner nations in and around the transit zone. The value of these agreements is seen every day in the U.S. government’s ability to gain jurisdiction over interdicted smugglers. The result is more prosecutions in U.S. courts and longer sentences under U.S. law for those convicted of drug trafficking. Most importantly, successful prosecutions in the U.S. provide investigators the ability to acquire actionable intelligence about drug movements and the illegal drug trade.

As a I posted on earlier, we are extremely appreciative of Congress’ passage of the Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act to counter the growing SPSS threat.

It is worth highlighting the great cooperation we have received from Mexico and Colombia.

This May I signed a joint Letter of Intent with Admiral Saynez, Secretary of the Mexican Navy, and General Renuart, Commander NORTHCOM. This letter paved the way for US/Mexico bilateral development of standard maritime operating procedures that have significantly enhanced our collective ability to share information and coordinate operations. These procedures, which are less than six months old, have facilitated the seizure of an SPSS and fishing vessel carrying over nine metric tons of cocaine, while also setting the foundation for closer cooperation across a broad range of law enforcement and security missions. The United States and Mexico will continue to fight together the scourge of drugs and narco trafficking that so terribly damages our common border and both of our countries.

I visited Cartagena last month and participated in the Colombian Navy and SOUTHCOM sponsored Counter Narco trafficking Symposium of the Americas. More than 30 flag officers from Navies and Coast Guards from around the region attended this event and discussed opportunities to improve cooperation in the fight against illicit drug smuggling.

Maritime counter-drug cooperation with Colombia is superb; the Government of Colombia (GOC) continues to be one of the closest partners the USG has in the battle on drugs and continued cooperation is critical to ensuring continued success. The USG and GOC have an agreement to suppress illicit traffic by sea, which is used extensively to counter the large flow of cocaine that is trafficked north from Colombia. The Colombian Navy/Coast Guard (COLNAV/COLCG) has been very responsive and can be counted on to provide vital interdiction support. U.S. and Colombian Operational Commanders meet regularly to have tactical discussions and identify initiatives that improve our cooperative efforts. JIATF-South and COLNAV/COLCG routinely conduct combined operations. The USCG has both an Attaché and a Liaison Officer (LNO) at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, and Colombia has a liaison officer at JIATF-South.

Maritime drug smuggling still remains a major challenge. A large majority of the cocaine that reaches the U.S. travels via maritime means, for at least part of its journey, all by challenging conveyances—self-propelled semi-submersible (SPSS) vessels, go-fasts via littoral routes that require the Coast Guard to shoot out the engines to stop them, secreted in sophisticated hidden compartments, and hidden among large volumes of legitimate commerce using containerized maritime cargo. We could not have achieved and cannot sustain this success by ourselves.



Piracy…What’s your endgame

December 2008


Congratulations to USNI for joining the blogosphere! This is a great forum to expand the outstanding strategic and independent discussions that USNI is renowned for. I am honored to be a part of this and hope to do my part to encourage interesting and impactful thought and dialogue.

I recently posted on my own blog, iCommandant, about the international approach needed to address the maritime aspects of the piracy problem off the Horn of Africa.

I also discussed this issue in detail with the Army Times Publishing Company’s editorial board. Here is a video of that discussion:
Army Times Ed. Board