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preparedness had reached its apex and was about to
commands, were to be sown.
Forget about warm, fuzzy feelings after rescues at sea, Gordon Good Guy—there’s a war on, and you’re in it! It’s time to toughen up mentally and focus on the wartime Maritime Defense Zone mission, as well as armed peacetime operations with the Navy. After a near-fadeout, the Coast Guard’s military self-image is returning with new clarity.
Militarily, the next ten years will be far more significant for the U. S. Coast Guard than the past 40. After decades of neglect, the Coast Guard has shifted its rudder and embarked on an unprecedented peacetime military revival. By the time the 21st century dawns, the refurbished coastal-defense mission will provide a military keel around which the Coast Guard will array its peacetime and wartime missions.
No longer a prisoner of its past, the Coast Guard is taking charge of its future.
After World War II, the Coast Guard’s military selfimage faded, almost into obscurity. As Congress heaped new civil regulations upon old, the service’s military acumen declined. This decreased the Coast Guard’s usefulness to its parent service in wartime, the U. S. Navy. Advances in military technology, particularly in antisubmarine warfare (ASW), further diminished the Coast Guard’s military capabilities.
Even the Vietnam experience, with its brief period of military regeneration, failed to strengthen permanently the service’s commitment to military preparedness. After Vietnam, military readiness became an unenticing pursuit for many officers. The service’s best and brightest continued to avoid, rather than seek, careers in military operations.
But alarms sounded in 1978, during a command-post exercise called Nifty Nugget 78, when the toll from years of neglect prevented the Coast Guard from performing its wartime assignments. In 1981, Admiral John B. Hayes, Commandant of the Coast Guard, testified before Congress that between 1978 and 1980 the proportion of high- endurance cutters fully ready for war had dropped from 19% to 4%. For medium-endurance cutters, the respective
figures were 45% to 16%. ..
The pendulum’s slow, full swing away from mu'
its return trip.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Admiral Hayes - ^ motion a series of bold initiatives to sort out, clarify- rebuild the service’s position in the U. S. military s ^ ture. Among these was a request for a non voting seat ^ the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the creation of liaison billed ,j the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Deployment Joint Task Force, the Military Traffic M agement Command, and the Military Sealift Conim3 and an in-house study of roles and missions. ^g
But perhaps the single most important event was creation in 1980 of the Navy-Coast Guard (NavGa Board. Cochaired by the Vice Chief of Naval Opera13 and Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, the launc of this forum was the institutional turning point f°r Coast Guard. It was here that the forces of change, P3^) ularly the seeds of the Maritime Defense Zone
It began in a 1981 study reassessing the Coast Ga3 _ wartime missions, when the Navy-Coast Guard Boar ommended that the Coast Guard perform certain rnarltI, jef defense duties for the Navy’s fleet commanders in 3aS (CinCs). Later, on Admiral James Gracey’s watc(ted Commandant, these seeds sprouted and further comm'\ the service to greater wartime responsibilities and a c 1 mission-force match.
Admiral Gracey summarized this sea change:
“The Maritime Defense Zone Commands have assigned to the commanders of the Coast Guard A . tic and Pacific areas, who, for MDZ purposes, ^ ^ directly to the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet CinCs, ^g peacetime. . . . This is a very important action * Coast Guard. For the first time in history we have cific defense readiness planning and execution re P ^ sibilities which involve command relationships w* ^ the services. Except for port security, our role < past has been, essentially, to report when directs fill in as needed. It [the MDZ] is a fundamental c in the functional relationships of the Coast Guard vis the other services.”1
Five Changes Facing the Coast Guard
help mariners in distress
all strategic ports and coastal locations, a new coasta harbor-defense cutter class appropriately equipPe(J ^ armed to perform its wartime jobs, and armed helic°P and other aircraft capable of attack.3 9jq,,
The Coast Guard’s current hodgepodge fleet of *- 270-, and 378-foot search-and-rescue vessels will ^ ^ placed slowly with a force built around a single c a
Now that the change has begun, what does the future hold for the Coast Guard? Where will these currents carry our fifth armed service?
By the turn of the century the Coast Guard will have passed through five distinct, yet intertwined, stages of transformation (see Table 1).
Closer Ties With the Navy: In spite of its efforts to retain a degree of organizational independence—white ships, unique uniforms, and, until recently, beards—the Coast Guard cannot escape the fundamental reality that it and the Navy are two parts of the same functional whole. Coastal defense and control of sea lines of communication are both integral parts of the Navy’s worldwide strategies.
The NavGard Board, or a similar forum, will continue to provide the strategic direction needed to keep the Coast Guard’s military rejuvenation on course. There is no sub- \ stitute for this top-level union of the two services. As long as the Coast Guard remains outside of the Department of Defense organization during peacetime, interservice linkages between the Coast Guard and the Navy must be kept in particularly good repair. These linkages represent the Coast Guard’s military compass needle during peace.
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Coast Guard has strengthened its operational ties with the Navy and DoD by opening billets for at least half a dozen new fulltime liaison officers and 30 MDZ staff officers. "Dfis trend will continue, but the Navy must show equal wmngness to send new liaison officers to major Coast Guard operational commands and staffs. Both services still have a lot to learn about one another.
Administrative agreements, mainly concerning logistics support, also bring the two services closer. Currently, about two dozen written agreements are in force between the Coast Guard and the Navy to clarify the exchange of technical assistance and support-facility cooperation. Not surprisingly, most of these agreements were initiated or updated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since these
documents provide the logistical foundation upon MDZ operational plans will rest, they must be update regularly to keep pace with new operational commitmentij
The Coast Guard’s military plans still do not match rea ity. But in the past, as long as wartime plans did not sig nificantly burden the Coast Guard with large peacetm1^ training demands, the service could, and did, adopt ^ “come-as-we-are” approach to wartime planning- This - no longer true. Current MDZ planning efforts, built °n^ new philosophy of being prepared to execute assign missions on a moment’s notice, will identify specl Coast Guard wartime missions, and then specify the ma11 power and hardware needed to carry them out. -s
Another significant trend, and one that will continue.^ the increasing use of joint Navy-Coast Guard training ® ercises to measure the Coast Guard’s readiness level- tween 1980 and 1985, Coast Guard participation in A® exercises increased steadily and significantly. Accor to Commander Lawson Brigham, U. S. Coast Guard. 1985, “38 cutters participated in fleet training exerClSr(] and 234 units took part in 63 joint service or Coast uu exercises.”2 e
Through a continuation of this cycle, perforrn3 weaknesses will be identified, corrected, and the L Guard’s military capabilities will continue to grow w cord with specific Navy-Coast Guard plans.
Appropriate Hardware and Technology: The “reP°j|. when-called-and-fill-in-as-needed” philosophy of rea ness resulted in a gradual shrinking of the Coast Gu®1, inventory of military hardware. During World War fl> ^ Coast Guard’s fleet was specifically equipped and traid for convoy escort, ASW, and other naval m*sS1°t)1e But as the emphasis shifted from wartime duties to performance of civil, regulatory tasks, the fleet’s P ^ cal capabilities slid. Unfortunately, the “report-"' ^ called ...” philosophy condoned and provided the ministrative justification for this trend toward min obsolescence. . s
At the same time, naval warfare since World War * become far more technical and costly. Simple deck ® e. have been largely replaced by surface-to-air and sur a ^ to-surface missiles. The speed and tactical flexibility^^ enemy submarines now surpass the speed and detec capabilities of the typical Coast Guard cutter. , af.
With the MDZ mission requirements of coastal and bor defense, however, the Coast Guard will have no a^ native but to design equipment to perform specific v time missions. No longer need it simply inherit ° obsolete, hand-me-down weapons and sensors fr°nl j(S Navy. No longer can the Coast Guard afford to but ships to jack-of-all-trades peacetime standards.
It should develop secure land-side communicatin'1 ,
inshore undersea warfare, mine warfare, and other
specifically designed for coastal command and con-
“efore appropriate surface and air hardware can be de- eioped, however, senior Coast Guard officers must ange their way of thinking about equipment. But they re already. In a 1986 Proceedings interview, Coast ^uard Vice Admiral D. C. Thompson, then-Commander antime Defense Zone Atlantic, gave some insight into at lies just over the horizon, j. ^sked about the Coast Guard’s airborne ASW capabili- S’ the admiral commented:
. “At this stage, we have no active ASW role for our aircraft.
‘The antisubmarine warfare technology advanced in [he late 1950s and 1960s. We found ourselves unable to *eeP abreast of it. We couldn’t afford the equipment or /*e training, so it’s a mission area that tapered off. . . . ^ut as U. S. Maritime Defense Zone Commander, Atlantic, working for the Commander-in-Chief, Atlan- jlc Fleet, I have considerable concern about surveil- ance and ASW in the coastal area of responsibility that 1 have.
“We ought to exploit whatever Coast Guard aircraft CaPabilities we have, but as of today they have no ASW c°nimitment.
“As we look at the Coast Guard’s participation in *he Maritime Defense Zone, we will be exploring the c Possibility of increased sensor capability. . . . There’s a
crying need to know who’s out there and what they are up to.”4
Admiral Thompson’s remarks underscore a fresh approach to the design and acquisition of the Coast Guard’s requirements for wartime hardware and technology. During the “report-when-called-and-fill-in-as-needed” era, the Coast Guard, having no direct air ASW responsibility, simply sidestepped the topic of airborne wartime sensors by claiming it lacked the resources to keep up with changes in technology. But with wartime performance responsibilities resting squarely on his shoulders, Admiral Thompson (and his successor as of 1 July 1988, Vice Admiral J. C. Irwin, U. S. Coast Guard) indicated a new willingness to find the money to equip Coast Guard aircraft properly with sensors and offensive weapons.
Although Admiral Thompson did not specifically address the issue in the Proceedings interview, equally strong incentives now exist for a renaissance in the design and offensive capabilities of the Coast Guard’s surface fleet as well. New wartime training and operating tactics must, of course, also be developed to employ a new air- sea coastal-defense force properly. This must include the operational integration of wartime activity inside and outside our harbors. Therefore, tactical control and communications for coordinating seaside and landside activities into a single operational whole may be one potential mission of a new coastal-defense vessel.
The need for more appropriate technology is not limited to the service’s larger cutters and aircraft. Changes are needed within the harbors too.
In the past, the peacetime Coast Guard did not use, and therefore did not have, much of the necessary equipment and training to defend U. S. ports in wartime adequately. On the equipment side, there is a crucial need for secure command-and-control communications at the port level, secure tactical communications on harbor patrol craft, and interservice communications links. On the training side, the service needs widespread indoctrination in wartime communications security (ComSec) and operations security (OpSec) skills, a working understanding of enemy infiltration tactics, and an ability to counter these tactics.
The key to success is having the appropriate wartime equipment in place and in regular use during peacetime. This means training thousands of personnel in peacetime for their wartime jobs, including skills such as ComSec, OpSec, and small boat tactics.
Wartime Budget Effectiveness: The post-World War II Coast Guard is obsessed with peacetime efficiency at the expense of wartime effectiveness. Short-term budgetary considerations dominate the decision-making process. The full use of this year’s resources matter far more than the
Lack of funding may force the Coast Guard to pick one: tending buoys or stopping drug smugglers. Given that industry can use something like the USCGC Sassafras (WLB-401) to tend buoys, the choice seems clear.
ability to perform in a distant, uncertain task—a war, for example. When faced with a choice between funding current operations or future contingencies, the Coast Guard, therefore, has a tendency to mortgage its future by spending too much on current operating programs and not investing enough for the long term.
The Coast Guard, instead, should ask: “What is the nature of the distant task and what types of ships, sensors, or armament are needed to perform that task?” Once the service clearly answers this question, it can turn to its budgeting process to provide the resource mix to reach its established, long-range goals.
Each year the Coast Guard seems to face the same dilemma: How can we afford long-range wartime spending when our short-range peacetime obligations are still underfunded? Obviously, if this annual drama is acted out over a period of years, as it has been since World War II, the organization’s wartime effectiveness will be in a perpetual state of decline.
Admiral Paul Yost, Coast Guard Commandant, said earlier this year, “For the Coast Guard, the budget system is broken. ’’5 He went on to say the service cannot compete with Amtrak any longer for the Transportation Department’s Function-400 Account budget favors.
The Coast Guard’s new missions, however, will refoc111’ the service’s priorities. Defending coasts and harbors wi force the Coast Guard to interject rationality and effective ness into its military readiness decision-making process^ With specific long-range MDZ responsibilities demanding funding on a regular basis, the Coast Guard’s wartnn missions will be better equipped to compete with peace time tasks for their fair share of the budget pie.
But this is still not enough. To ensure the long-rang development of the Coast Guard’s wartime capability the service must insulate its wartime mission budget- process from the peacetime duties budget process.
A move in this direction, in fact, is already under w A Congress initiated in the 1980s at least two methods supplementing the Coast Guard’s military readiness nee with DoD funds. Congress first set up the coastal defen augmentation account to channel capital improvem funds to the Coast Guard through DoD in 1982. In *■ way, the Coast Guard received $300 million in 1982, $ million in 1984, $375 million in 1986, and $20 milli°n 1988. An operating funds pass-through account, t*iroU|)e the Navy, was also used by Congress to supplement
The NavGard Board at Work
board, as I recall it, was
-and this is something
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
Not only do the Coast Guard and Navy operate regularly together— especially in the war on drugs— but the Coast Guard now flies two Navy E-2Cs.
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 circumstances, 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.