The Case for U.S. Coast Guard Cutters in American Samoa

CIMSEC – Compared to the marquee U.S. military installations at Diego Garcia, Yokosuka, or Guam, American Samoa is a U.S. territory that evokes images of idyllic island life rather than strategic competition. However, by considering American Samoa through the lens of strategic competition, a military installation manned by the U.S. Coast Guard is an easy step to demonstrate commitment in the region that makes imminent sense for several reasons. Due to the sheer distances involved in the Pacific — the closest Coast Guard installations are from Hawaii (2,260 nautical miles) and Guam (3,120 nautical miles) — current sustained operations in region are necessarily expeditionary.

Beware Buyer’s Remorse: Why the Coast Guard Needs to Steer Clear of the LCS

CIMSEC – With all the negative publicity surrounding the Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS) program, it would seem self-evident the Coast Guard has no interest in acquiring the LCS as a hand-me-down. However, with the recent publishing of “In Dire Need: Why the Coast Guard Needs the LCS,” a newly found interest in acquiring problematic navy platforms may be growing and deserves to be judged on its merits.

Exploring Unmanned Surface Vehicles to Guard Ports and Harbors

CIMSEC – Port authorities must ensure security twenty-four hours a day, every day. This task includes continuous inspection of port assets, threat detection and security response, as well as on-demand inspections after storms or other disasters, ongoing surveys to ensure navigable waterways, hull inspections, and a wide-range of other missions. Unmanned surface vessels can fill this gap better than legacy approaches.

In Dire Need: Why the Coast Guard Needs the LCS

CIMSEC – In the spring of 2021, defense-minded internet message boards and social media were ablaze at headlines that the U.S. Navy would be decommissioning the first hulls of the decade-old Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). A chorus of “good riddance” posts and thought pieces followed. Though the Navy maintains it intends to keep using both Independence and Freedom variants of the LCS, it is no secret that the program has been beleaguered with class-wide mechanical issues. As many in naval thought circles lament and debate what the Navy will do in the way of near shore combatants in contested waters, a unique opportunity has emerged for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Pushing or Overstepping? Legal Boundaries in the Fight Against Maritime Drug Smuggling Part 1

CIMSEC – Every day, U.S. Coast Guard cutters patrol the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea for drug smuggling vessels, seizing more cocaine than all other American law enforcement agencies combined. Federal prosecutors then bring charges against the detained smugglers under a controversial and confusing legal regime. By analyzing the lifecycle of a case – from interdiction to detention to prosecution – this two-part article explores (1) the extraterritorial jurisdiction established by the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA); (2) the practice of detaining suspected smugglers aboard Coast Guard cutters for weeks without formal arrest; and (3) the interaction between intelligence gathering and the trial penalty. In each of these instances, a different branch of the federal government is pushing against – if not overstepping – legal constraints in order to empower the Coast Guard in the fight against maritime drug smuggling. This is a fragile system, however, and should one of these government branches become squeamish, the whole apparatus could collapse.

Adjusting Course

USNI Blog – The U.S. Coast Guard, the world’s ocean-beat cop, is well-suited for the diplomatic-military role required to curtail China’s bullying in the South China Sea, while still retaining its reputational goodwill in disputed regions. The Coast Guard can act as diplomatic warfighters, offering a gloved hand (that can hold brass knuckles.) With a series of minor course adjustments, the Coast Guard can remain relevant in ocean governance and security, and may yet thwart the demise of its cuttermen and its fleet.

Modern-Day Beach Patrol: Add Coastal Defense Cruise Missiles to the Coast Guard’s Inventory

USNI Blog – The Coast Guard has stood the watch along U.S. coasts since the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service, protecting against myriad threats large and small. As the current National Security Strategy directs the U.S. military to refocus on countering peer and near-peer threats, the time is ripe for the Coast Guard to field coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM) to both defend the homeland and prevail in a war at sea.

Cybersecurity at Port Facilities: Making Rules Requires Rulemaking

CIMSEC – In February 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard published guidelines for port facilities to address cybersecurity threats. The new guidelines were needed, but they are not enough. The U.S. Coast Guard should, to carry out its legal duty to safeguard the maritime transportation system, energize the domestic rulemaking process to adopt uniform and enforceable cybersecurity rules for maritime facilities.