Archive for the 'Coast Guard' Tag

Great photos from Coast Guard News’ photostream on the rescue efforts in Fargo, North Dakota.

Heritage’s Mackenzie Eaglen and Eric Sayers recently wrote,

…the Coast Guard must procure a much larger and modern fleet of national security cutters (NSC) and move ahead with the development of the offshore patrol cutter (OPC). This would then allow one national security cutter to deploy with each carrier strike group and expeditionary strike group. This increase would satisfy the growing demand of Combatant Commanders for more Coast Guard assets in theater following recent deployments by the USCGC Dallas last year in support of Africa Partnership Station and relief efforts in Georgia.

I totally agree. What do you think? Going back to my days as a congressional defense staffer, I have long felt the Coast Guard’s modernization program reflects a pre-911 world. Moreover, increasing the number of cutter days in the various combatant commands would allow the Coast Guard to win more hearts and minds around the world.

In this era of bailouts and stimulus packages, spare me that our nation can’t afford to have one cutter with each and every carrier and expeditionary strike group. And yes, I know this would require an increase in Coast Guard end-strength.

To read the entire report, click here.

photo credit (me)

Earlier this month, USNI Guest blogger and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen delivered his 2009 State of the Coast Guard Address. The Q &A that followed his remarks was expanded to include questions submitted on-line via ICommandant. I submitted the following question regarding the Coast Guard’s history program:

Q13. What is the state of the Coast Guard’s historical program?

A13. The Historian’s office interfaces with every program in the Service. It has direct contact with the Commandant and nearly all the flag officers and directly communicates with politicians on their behest. The office works directly with hundreds of museums, academics, veteran groups, the retired Coast Guard community and all components of the public. The Museum Program has currently loaned-out thousands of artifacts to over 100 museums nationwide, and tracks and oversees about 20,000 artifacts. The loan program gives the Coast Guard exposure throughout the country and in many different venues.
Provided below is an overview of what resources are available to the Historian’s office, their key tasks, and major undertakings.


CG Headquarters office, 2 Area offices, CG Museum at the CG Academy, and the Exhibit Center in Forestville, MD.


1) The office regularly interacts with the media and participates in documentary interviews.

2) Public speaking is performed periodically but is restricted by staffing and budgetary limitations.

3) Part of the office mission is archiving historical material not destined for the National Archives. The Historian’s Office has an archive of nearly 2,300 liner feet of documents. This includes books, manuals, and photos. These collections are available to the Service and the public.

4) Historical website development is a major component of the business of the office. The website gets over 100,000 visits a year.

5) The office collects a limited number of oral histories each year.

6) The Historian’s Office is responsible for the preservation and management of the Service’s 20,000 artifacts.

7) The office is also responsible for the Coast Guard Museum and the promotion of the Service’s history through loans to other museums.

8) The office answers over 7,000 inquiries a year which requires 40% of the staff’s time.

Major Projects

1) The National Coast Guard Museum initiative could have the greatest impact on the program. The historian’s office is currently working on a system to provide creative and curatorial input into the design and construction process.

2) Another current issue that the office is involved with is creating the historical record of the Service’s transition to the OPCOM and FORCECOM organization.

3) The office is currently working with the Commandant to preserve his legacy and to document his tenure. The office has gathered hundreds of documents and collected many hours of oral history interviews.
4) The addition of the Area Historians has allowed the office to collect more oral histories and have a presence in the field.

5) The on-going development of the internet site allows the office’s information and collections to be viewed by members of the Service and the public. This helps with the overall promotion and dissemination of Coast Guard History.

Many thanks to Admiral Allen and his staff for expanding the Q&A session to include questions from the blogosphere and for the update on the CG’s history program. To view the rest of the Q & A session, click here.

Accelerating the Deepwater program and building a larger fleet of National Security Cutters were the focus of my questions to RADM Gary T. Blore, USCG, during a recent DOD Bloggers Roundtable. Dating back to my days on Capitol Hill, I have felt that 25 years was way too long to modernize our Coast Guard. Moreover, I have also thought the Coast Guard should procure more than 8 National Security Cutters.

How much money could you save if the Deepwater program was accelerated? Because it’s been stretched out over 25 years. If you’d done it over 10 to 12 years — and if you could, which programs could be accelerated today?

ADM. BLORE: … in very gross terms — this goes back to some studies that were done in 2003, 2004, so to get anything, you know, reasonably accurate, we would need to take a look at that. But I think — and this is largely based on, I think, some work that RAND and the Center for Naval Analysis did. And they estimated, out of the $24 billion program, that about 10 percent, or $2-1/2 billion, could be saved by accelerating the program. And again, that is a very rough figure that was used back at that time. And a lot of that has to do with, you know, economic order quantities and, you know, maximizing production rates and that sort of thing.

The programs that would have been accelerated — and I think has been our position that if the Congress asked us to accelerate acquisition — would be those programs that are running and successful, so Response Boat-Medium, our patrol boat contract, you know, those lines — the maritime patrol aircraft — those lines that are already producing.

There are some risks to accelerating programs that aren’t in production. There is wisdom to the schedule that acquisition uses so that we make sure all the checks and balances are in place before the product line starts. Once the product line starts then you — very low risk to accelerate up to the maximum that the production line can produce.

Could the National Security Cutter be accelerated?

ADM. BLORE: It could, probably less so than some of the other projects, just because there’s limited capacity at the shipyard in Pascagoula, but it could be accelerated somewhat.

Why are eight national-security cutters replacing a dozen Secretary-class cutters? Why not, like, a one-for-one basis?

ADM. BLORE: The question is why do we have eight national-security cutters replacing 12 high-endurance cutters. When the Deepwater project was originally formulated in the late ’90s, they did use cost as a variable parameter to organize the overall system that was going to replace the Coast Guard assets at the time. And they were allowed to make tradeoffs. So, for example, if, you know, you were going to get more capabilities in aviation that were going to replace some capabilities on the surface side, they were allowed to do those sorts of mixes as the three consortiums that competed for that made their final proposals. So one is there was a tradeoff within the overall mix within the Coast Guard.

The second thing is, the national-security cutter, if you take each individual national-security cutter, it provides about 50 more days away from home port than the 378 does. It is also more capable for each day it’s under way than the 378. And I think if you do the hours, you’re correct, it doesn’t quite equal, you know, 12 times — what is it for a 378? — 130, I think, or somewhere around there, versus eight times 170 days. But it was their attempt to optimize the system — “they” being Integrated Coast Guard Systems at the time. And again, given the cost parameters, given the overall system mix, the determination was made that eight fairly expensive — in comparison to the other assets — national-security cutters was the right mix. There’s also a very robust off-shore patrol cutter, of which we would be building 25 new ones that would be coming in right after the national-security cutters. So I guess the other thing I would invite is, when you think of the mix of your replacing 12 with 8, remember that we’re also coming in with 25 new off-shore patrol cutters.

Full transcript of the interview can be found here.

Cross posted over at An Unofficial Coast Guard Blog

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.

In an op-ed entitled State of Forces: Hollow Reserves, the New York Times writes,
More than 450,000 men and women serve in the Army and Air National Guard, and somewhat less than 400,000 in the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Reserves.

What about the 8,000 members of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve? Were we abolished overnight and given no opportunity to blog about its demise? No, I don’t think so.

One of my pet peeves is that the USCG is often forgotten by ignorant members of the press corps who think they are only 4 branches of the U.S. military.

Anyone care to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times informing them of their oversight? If so, click here for instructions on how to do so. (Cross-posted at AN UNOFFICIAL COAST GUARD BLOG)

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


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