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board, as I recall it, was
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On 20 November 1987, Commander Fraser interviewed Vice Admiral J. C. Irwin, Commander Atlantic MDZ (then-Vice Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard and cochairman of the NavGard Board), at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Background: The Navy-Coast Guard (NavGard) Board was established on 25 November 1980 “to provide high-level coordination and recommendations on major policy issues of mutual interest to the Navy and the Coast Guard.”
Vice Admiral C. T. Lusk, Jr., and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral H. Hardisty, are the board’s current cochairmen. Seventeen other Washington-based flag officers, ten from the Navy and seven from the Coast Guard, round out the board’s membership. Since its creation, the board has met twice annually.
Fraser: I have a feeling the NavGard Board has yet to be fully recognized for its behind- the-scenes, joint-service readiness accomplishments, especially in the area of coastal defense. How do you assess the board’s accomplishments thus far?
Irwin: Your first supposition about the NavGard Board and how it has affected the readiness of the two services in the last seven years, I think, is on the mark. It has been a real catalyst in improving Coast Guard readiness and an asset in improving the professional relations between the Coast Guard and the Navy, particularly at the very senior levels.
Fraser: Why was the board created in the first place?
Irwin: Around the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, the Coast Guard was really under fire from the administration as to whether it should remain a military organization or not. A number of steps were undertaken to help solidify our belief that yes, we should remain a military organization.
I have a feeling Admiral
[John B.] Hayes [then-Coast Guard Commandant] may haV been looking for ways to ernp size the military aspects of 1 L Coast Guard. Admiral Hayes and CNO [Chief of Naval OP1- ations] Admiral [Thomas B-l Hayward, his counterpart in Navy, were very close perso ^ friends. This is unusual. Son1 ^ times you have CNOs and C° mandants who are close, son times you don’t. But those t*' did a lot of talking. I sense of them felt a joint Navy aI1 , Coast Guard board was a g°° and necessary event. <
Admiral Hayes also believe that the board would help l1"’ clarify our struggle with the administration about the nu ' character of the Coast Guar ■ But there were other unde” ing reasons for the board s tion. An initial goal of that
Admiral Hayward wanted t® do—the wartime tasking 0 Coast Guard. That had not c done in 10 or 15 years. We were still operating under t
^alized version of these ad hoc budget methods must be lned and continued. A more dependable funding pipe- must be built between the Congress and the Coast 3rd’s wartime mission managers. res °ngress, DoD, and the Navy (not DoT) will probably P°nd enthusiastically to this shift away from the mud
^°ast Guard’s military readiness requirements. This ac- 0ant supplied $115 million in 1986, $75 million in 1987, $108 million in 1988.
n each case, Congress set up these supplemental bud- q P'Pelines to overcome the deficiencies endemic to the t,°ast Guard’s “normal” budget. Some insiders claim Se ad hoc accounts were established in an era of ex- ^ordinarily large DoD appropriations and that in lean JJods they will probably not survive. w° conclusions, however, can be drawn. First, Con- j;ess. DoD, and the Navy have all clearly acknowledged fue inadequacies of DoT’s Function-400 Account for nding the Coast Guard’s military readiness requirements recognize the need to develop alternative funding tlannels.
^econd, if the Coast Guard’s ambitious entry into the and harbor defense fields is to continue, an institu-
dling through approach that has characterized the Coast Guard’s past wartime planning and budgeting process. The Coast Guard should receive greater budget support during the next decade.
Emphasis on Peacetime Duties That Have Military Applications: The Coast Guard’s operational charter resembles the nation’s maritime attic—a collection of marine odds and ends too important to throw out, but not militarily important enough to delegate to the Navy. Several of these tasks—aids to navigation and search-and-rescue, in particular—have become bread-and-butter peacetime operational duties of the Coast Guard. They consume a major share of the service’s budget and manpower resources. But they bring with them certain disadvantages.
First, they are not the stuff from which an armed service is made. Aids to navigation are functions of industrial maintenance. Search-and-rescue is basically a foul- weather rescue and towing service. Each teaches seamanship, but not tactical skills specifically related to coastal defense.
Second, neither mission has growth potential. Technological advances, including satellites, have taken much
mat these skills would per-
r;i|vth^m to adapt to wartime
I suspect that [the
dlltSUmPti°n that our roles and tll'es were about the same as ^ Were back in World War II. reWere essentially training our lv>s for walking the beach' duties-
C0ls valid. The active-duty Guard had a similar, un- j a,1ged mindset. We were train- ^ °ur reservists through aug- p^nt;iti°n of active-duty „Cetime operations in the be-
:,ret the world had been n,irrching on for 30 years. Adit^3 HaVes and others knew Jfi(]C,LSblould be some changes § of the Coast Guard’s cur- tCr "mftime taskings, then de- lofi ,ne wb*ch of those were no tlie^er aPplicable and whether d0j were things we were not .g that we should be doing.
• at is how they really got ‘0arH>
s creation] related to both Pha lr?b Hayes’s goal of reem- Wa !Zlng and clarifying new q. 1116 missions and his con- h;)(j whether the Coast Guard ae right mix of naval wartime missions.
Also, at the first meeting there was an agenda item addressing the requirements and needs of the former sea frontiers. You may recall that some years back the Navy had charged eastern and western sea frontier commands with coastal defense of the United States. These commands went by the wayside in the mid-1970s. By the early 1980s, the Navy was concentrating on projecting power overseas and had ne-
"RS / July 1988
of the search out of search-and-rescue. What was once a manpower-intensive search process is becoming more of an electronic search and helicopter-plucking operation.
Satellites also have largely replaced the Coast Guard’s long-range navigation functions. The service’s short-range navigation responsibilities, consisting mainly of tending buoys and other deep-water aids, could probably be performed equally well if contracted out to a private firm.
The point is this: If the Coast Guard is to enhance and maintain its military readiness capabilities, it is mandatory that it shift away from stagnant, nonmilitary duties. It must move into a mix of peacetime and wartime duties that have both growth potential and direct training and equipment relationships to the service’s growing MDZ responsibilities.
Law enforcement—especially against illegal, seaborne drug smuggling—is one area particularly ripe for growth, because of its significant coastal and harbor defense applications. It is, therefore, in the service’s peacetime and wartime interests to shift resources from aids to navigation, for example, into law enforcement. Such a shift would satisfy a growing public demand for a new service, attract new resources to the organization as this mission
expands, and provide a coastal-defense training gr° Coastal defense and coastal law enforcement are c°n' plementary. With careful planning, a dollar spent on en of these missions will directly benefit the other. All ci zens, regardless of location, benefit directly fronl . stronger national defense. This is not the case for. s^’ search-and-rescue, which benefits coastal area citizens more than those living in Montana. u
The Coast Guard must also jettison its long-held m) that all of its functions are equally important. Nati°a^ survival depends on military readiness. And, because Coast Guard is at all times an armed service, its
missions outrank all other duties in importance country. All nonmilitary duties of the Coast Guard tA be treated as means to the superior end—national survi through military strength. If a peacetime duty does no this agenda, then maybe the service should not be P forming it.
A New Service Culture: Past military exercises ^ shown how difficult, perhaps impossible, it is for the a age Coastguardsman/woman to shift mentally upon m lization from a peacetime “good-guy” to the suspicl
glected the sea frontier missions. So there was a void to be filled. Then, at the second meeting of the board, the term maritime defense zone came up. So at the very outset, the board—and I don’t know if it was a Navy or Coast Guard agenda item—made the link between old sea frontiers and new maritime defense zones.
Fraser: Do you know of any similar interservice structure, a forerunner of the NavGard Board, perhaps, that brought the top management of each service together on a regular basis?
Irwin: To my knowledge there were no other formal, top- level Coast Guard-Navy policy- coordination structures before the NavGard Board. If emergencies come up, we have liaison officers on OpNav’s [the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations’s] staff, and the Commandant and CNO will talk on an “as- needed” basis. For most day- to-day communications, these arrangements have been adequate. But as a formal joint- service body at the top, the NavGard Board is unique.
Fraser: Has the NavGard Board had an effect on interservice communications beyond the face-to-face meetings of the board?
Irwin: Very much so. The NavGard Board has enhanced the day-to-day, personal relationships among all of the board members, not just the cochairpersons. Both sides know who to call. And, the interservice give-and-take around the table on agenda items builds on, and reinforces, these ongoing relationships.
Fraser: What is the most significant accomplishment of the NavGard Board?
Irwin: Oh, I’ve got to say the boost it has given to the MDZ. No doubt about it, because so many other things have flowed out of the MDZ effort.
Fraser: Could the MDZ have been created in the absence of the NavGard Board?
Irwin: I’m sure it would have, but the board has helped a lot. What you have in the MDZ is the Coast Guard executing the Navy’s coastal defense mission. That was decided at the higher levels of both the Coast Guard
and the Navy. There were no real problems in the Coast Guard with this concept, but . everyone in the Navy snppotl the idea. It is only natural j some people in the Navy to uneasy, to feel that the MD could mean new players vyin- for Navy resources. . g
We’ve identified through NavGard Board, for examp e- the need for $65-$70 milh0^,
worth of communications e4
ment for the MDZ forces. is going to come out of Na ' money and they have fu”'1IT problems just as we do. Is1 e ^ advocates for MDZ tasks, sa j
as mine countermeasures, ^
be vying for available funds-
Fraser: Rather than a singly ^ advocate, the MDZ seems a collection of advocates—" j countermeasures, naval c°n of shipping, inshore underse ^ warfare, and others. Under collective MDZ hat, do thes^ small backwater groups hav more budget clout than vV°u otherwise be the case?
Irwin: Yes, and there is a T newed spirit of purpose an1 ^ these groups. But I must c00\ you on one point. Naval co
Slgnificant East Coast/West
'v>n: No, not too much. They Ve tracked pretty closely to-
Comparison of the Coast Guard’s Peacetime and Wartime Port Operating Environments
Enforce laws and regulations in ports,
Defend continental-U. S. ports
stop drug smuggling Laws and regulations
Military operations plans Laws and regulations
Trained and armed enemy forces
Vessel and facility operators
Drug smugglers Terrorists
SAR boat and aircraft crews
Surveillance and interdiction
of boat and aircraft crews
ComSec and OpSec*
Interservice team work not crucial
ComSec and OpSec*
Military intelligence not crucial
Interservice team vital to success Military intelligence vital
^hile not crucial in peacetime port safety operations, ComSec and OpSec are crucial in peacetime law enforcement operations, especially drug interdiction.
shipping is not at this time ^sidered part of the MDZ. I’m I Saying it shouldn’t be, and a jj logic indicates it should j; a Part of the MDZ. We ^°uld like to take another look that, especially to see if there
oast differences in the applica- sl .y of the naval control of 'Pping forces.
^raser: Beyond the naval con- (u °f shipping question, are Q,ere major East Coast/West . °ast differences in the way the lr 2 has developed?
fener- Now, there are some dif- p>*s because of the geogra- UjJ 'tivolved. There are many n re strategic ports on the East .ast than on the West Coast. Cre'S .^as led to the need for, and Sll,atl°n of, more sectors and Sectors on the East Coast, asequently, the organization ^ y he a little different. But we der* for the CinCs [comman- rs'>n-chief] on each coast.
Jaser: Does our involvement ^ NATO give the East Coast ^ a more important national role?
Irwin: No, I don’t think so arid the reports I get of the importance CinCPac [Commander-inChief Pacific] attaches to the West Coast MDZ and the duties he’s looking to spin off to it assure me he sees the MDZ as a necessary and viable force out there.
Fraser: The NavGard Board passed through an initial “study-the-problem” phase, during which it identified the need for the MDZ and then became an advocate for better coastal defense. Does the board consider itself a policy-level unit ready to turn its plans over to OpNav and Coast Guard Headquarters for implementation, or will the board, when the going gets tough on the funding front, use its influence to find the money needed to implement its plans?
Irwin: The divisions between the phases in the development of the NavGard Board are not as distinct as you imply. The FRAM [fleet rehabilitation and modernization] of the Coast Guard 378-foot cutter, for example, called for major improvements to this vessel to meet the demands of coastal defense. The Navy realized this was going to cost it money and it still went forward. The same is true of the 270-foot cutter design. Lots of Navy money was involved and it went forward. The communications costs for the MDZ—the same story.
These are NavGard Board items that progressed from study to hardware, and, in each case, the Navy found the money needed to implement the studies. This is not to suggest the Navy paid all the costs, but a significant portion has come from Navy funds. But, in each case, the Navy worked with the board to arrive at what was needed and the costs involved. We all knew these were big ticket items.
The NavGard Board was a major influence in seeing that the money was available. Just by having the board members around the table as the needs and costs are discussed repeatedly, the OpNav and Coast Guard office chiefs become more and more familiar with the subjects and finally commit themselves and say, “Let’s do it.”
hard-nosed sailor needed to protect our harbors and coasts from a determined enemy in wartime. Table 2 summarizes the stark contrasts between the Coast Guard’s current peacetime and wartime operating environments.
Just as the MDZ mission requires new sensors and weapons in Coast Guard ships and aircraft, it also demands that all Coastguardsmen/women consider themselves, above all, as members of the armed forces. The “mission of mercy” image so finely honed by Coast Guard recruiters in the past is not compatible with the service’s new military direction. When the objective is a determined, armed, and unpredictable enemy, not a humble fisherman adrift at sea, we must be ready to respond with a trained military force, not a tow line.
As the Coast Guard’s peacetime and wartime activities become more complementary, its personnel will become more adept at passing readily from one environment to the other.
In the end, it will probably be a lot easier to come up with the money to upgrade the Coast Guard’s surface and air fleets than to change the attitudes of its personnel. Both changes, however, must be made simultaneously.
As the Coast Guard progresses through these five
change-filled stages toward a more rational future, it 'J'1 achieve a new organizational equilibrium. The current dj continuity between peacetime and wartime will gradua ) disappear as the stature of our fifth armed service is °nae again based on a demonstrated mission-force mate • Semper Paratus.
lThe Officer, April 1985, p. 19. ^ va]
2Cdr Lawson W. Brigham, USCG, “U. S. Coast Guard in 1985,” U- s- * Institute Proceedings, May 1986, p. 42.
3See LCdr Lynn W. Norden, USNR, comment on “Coastal Defense” and j1 ing the Coast,” U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings, December 1985, P- 1 ’ related ideas on the requirements for an entrance control vessel. ,Si
4VAdm D. C. Thompson, USCG, interview, U. S. Naval Institute Procee 1 October 1986, pp. 169-174.
5Navy Times, 8 February 1988.
Commander Fraser has held operational and staff assignments boi active and reserve duty. He is currently a defense analyst and the Washington, D.C., area.
Fraser: Is attendance at Nav- Gard Board meetings good? Irwin: The meetings are very well attended and these are very senior people. Most of the Navy’s members are three stars and the NavGard Board is a big chunk out of their day. I’m terribly pleased with the level of commitment shown around the table.
Fraser: Does the NavGard Board receive a higher priority from the Coast Guard members than the Navy members, given the fact that the Navy is so much larger and has worldwide responsibilities?
Irwin: You’re asking, I think, if one service or the other receives a disproportionate share of the benefits. I would have to say it is a pretty equally divided arrangement. Yes, the Coast Guard is a net recipient of money. But that money improves our capability to perform Navy missions. If you upgrade the 378-foot cutter so it can perform like an FFG-7 [Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate], who benefits?
It works both ways, though. The use of buoy-tending vessels in the mine countermeasures arena—for channel conditioning—is a good example of resources taken out of the Coast Guard’s hide to serve a naval mission.
Fraser: What are two or three major agenda items that the board recently faced?
Irwin: One important item was the wartime tasking of Coast Guard aircraft. That has really been in limbo Over the years. Unlike our ships and personnel, we have assumed our Coast Guard aircraft would be doing in wartime what they do in peacetime. Now we need to ensure effective wartime tasking for our aircraft too.
One of the issues prompting this was the Coast Guard’s recent acquisition of two Navy E-2C aircraft, major weapon systems. And I say, “What happens to these two craft upon mobilization?” That question, in turn, led us to ask a similar question about our other aircraft.
Another agenda item was the transfer of Coast Guard forces to the Navy in situations short of declared war and national emergencies. Under these circum
stances, the integration of the services is pretty clear. But if contingency situations, such aS the Persian Gulf today, whet* the President isn’t going to ca ^ up 200,000 reserves or ded8^ national emergency, just how we ensure that the Coast Guaf^s is able to quickly provide f°rCt to the Navy?
Fraser: Are there any s'8n'way cant barriers standing in the of making the NavGard Boat work well and perform its 10 service role into the future- Irwin: I haven’t been able to think of any. The board is n° seven years old and has g°ne ^
through three Commandants a
CNOs and our agendas are s engaging.
Interestingly, the board n functions with very little dire Commandant or CNO inv0 vup ment. We do keep the bosses to date, but we do not rely 0 their direct involvement. Art that’s a strength, because the^ board can continue on with without the involvement of two men.