In spite of increasing responsibilities in homeland security, Coast Guard forces remain committed to and equipped to support expeditionary operations.
On 29 January 2003, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was asked, "The Coast Guard announced today [it is] sending eight cutters, 600 people, to the Persian Gulf, which I understand is the first time they have been dispatched to a combat zone since the Vietnam War. What's the thinking behind that, and what's their mission going to be?" General Myers answered, "For the Coast Guard, primarily for port and harbor and waterway security. That's what they do best."
Immediately, questions followed about why the lead federal agency for maritime homeland security should remain a military expeditionary force, as part of a power projection strategy overseas. After all, the Coast Guard suffers from its own readiness issues and is embarked on a multiyear, multimillion-dollar strategy to address deficiencies and modernize much of its fleet. Why, in the face of our current homeland security threats, should the nation's primary maritime security force deploy overseas?