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Providing Homeland Security

The Coast Guard's role in national defense

 

 

 

The Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard joint maritime strategy, released in March 2015, “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward, Engaged, Ready,” also referred to as CS21, describes how America’s sea services will design, organize, and employ naval forces in support of national security interests and homeland security objectives. Defending the nation is one of 11 statutory missions of the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard’s role in national defense and anti-terrorism is a cornerstone of homeland security efforts to protect the country from the ever-present threat of terrorism. The best way to keep these threats from coming to America’s shores is to deter and stop them as far from the homeland as possible.

The strategy updates the previous document, which was released in 2007. The strategy underscores the importance of the Coast Guard as one of the nation’s five armed services – and the only one in the Department of Homeland Security – and emphasizes operating forward and engaging partners across the globe, especially in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“As the Service approaches 225 years of service, history has proven that a responsive, capable, and agile Coast Guard is an indispensable instrument of national security, and investing in 21st century Coast Guard platforms and people is a prudent choice despite the challenging fiscal environment,” stated Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft in written testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries & Coast Guard in April 2015.

The Coast Guard’s role in national defense and anti-terrorism is a cornerstone of homeland security efforts to protect the country from the ever-present threat of terrorism. The best way to keep these threats from coming to America’s shores is to deter and stop them as far from the homeland as possible.

The Coast Guard performs its four essential major national defense missions – maritime intercept operations, deployed port operations/security and defense, peacetime engagement, and environmental defense operations – as a component of joint and combined forces in peacetime, crisis, and war. The relationship with the Navy, in particular, is close.

“America’s Sea Services – the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard – uniquely provide presence around the globe,” wrote Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in CS21. “During peacetime and times of conflict, across the full spectrum – from supporting an ally with humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to deterring or defeating an adversary in kinetic action – Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are deployed at sea and in far-flung posts to be wherever we are needed, when we are needed.

New-York-harbor-security

Members of Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) Boston conduct security sweeps of New York Harbor, Sept. 11, 2014. MSST Boston deployed to Staten Island, New York, to assist MSST New York with providing a heightened security presence during the 13th anniversary of Sept. 11. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank J. Iannazzo-Simmons

“Coming from the sea, we get there sooner, stay there longer, bring everything we need with us, and we don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Our founders recognized the United States as a maritime nation and the importance of maritime forces, including in our Constitution the requirement that Congress ‘maintain a Navy.’ In today’s dynamic security environment, with multiple challenges from state and non-state actors that are often fed by social disorder, political upheaval, and technological advancements, that requirement is even more prescient,” Mabus continued.

“The United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are our Nation’s first line of defense, often far from our shores,” he noted.

“As such, maintaining America’s leadership role in the world requires our Nation’s Sea Services to return to our maritime strategy on occasion and reassess our approach to shifting relationships and global responsibilities.” Mabus wrote. “This necessary review has affirmed our focus on providing presence around the world in order to ensure stability, build on our relationships with allies and partners, prevent wars, and provide our Nation’s leaders with options in times of crisis. It has confirmed our continued commitment to maintain the combat power necessary to deter potential adversaries and to fight and win when required.”

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Capt. Edward H. Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a senior-level communications professional with more than...