Given the nature of international maritime threats, the U.S. Coast Guard can make a major security contribution to the network currently advocated by the U.S. and many foreign navies.
Leaders of world navies and coast guards offered strong hut qualified support in the March 2006 International Navies issue of Proceedings for the U.S. Navy's initiative to build a global maritime security network, the 1,000-Ship Navy. These leaders counseled that success for this global fleet concept requires a significant law enforcement component-a critical ingredient, given the natures of the threats all maritime states face. The German Navy's Vice Admiral Lutz Feldt cautioned that maritime security involved more than naval operations, and Spanish Navy Admiral Sebastian Zaragoza Solo echoed his warning.
The U.S. Navy is not today ready to meet global law-enforcement and constabulary requirements. On the other hand, because of its unique status and history as both a law enforcement agency and an armed force, the U.S. Coast Guard is positioned to help the Navy make its concept a reality.
Why the U.S. Coast Guard?
Capabilities Relevant to Threats. Heads of international navies and coast guards propose that the U.S. Navy use a much broader definition of maritime security. They understand that for the next 20 years, if not longer, maritime security operations will primarily be against nonmilitary, asymmetric threats. While a conventional-war threat from nation-states cannot be disregarded, the more likely challenge will originate from a variety of sources.
Traditional military forces cannot efficiently or effectively counter these threats from adversaries who strive to become indistinguishable from legitimate commerce and recreational maritime traffic. Maritime state leaders virtually everywhere are concerned about the non-military, maritime threats. Maritime law enforcement authorities and capabilities are critical for achieving common maritime security goals.
Vice Admiral J. W. Kelder of the Royal Netherlands Navy warned that the threats of, "piracy, drug trafficking, illegal immigrants, weapons smuggling, and weapons of mass destruction-as well as potential conflict areas, are diverse and unpredictable." These threats, according to Rear Admiral Jan Eirik Finseth of the Royal Norwegian Navy, "know no borders and are rarely connected to a specific state." In addition, many are diverse, unpredictable, and transnational: human smuggling and slavery, environmental hazards, trade disruption, political and religious extremism, mass migration flows, global health issues (such as the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS and avian flu), over-exploited fisheries, destruction of marine habitats, natural disasters, and expanded deepocean seabed mineral and energy operations.
These have little military contexts and are conveyed in ways that are not effectively countered by traditional military forces. Indeed, the 2005 U.S. National Strategy fur Maritime Security makes this clear: "Unlike traditional military scenarios in which adversaries and theaters of action are clearly defined, these nonmilitary, transnational threats often demand more than purely military undertakings to he defeated."
Although navy-to-navy confrontations cannot be ignored, the 21st-century national security environment places much greater emphasis on maritime constabulary operations for good order and discipline at sea. Responding to these threats can best be accomplished by national law enforcement authorities acting within their domestic authority and where appropriate, in concert with other governments and within international frameworks.
Broad Jurisdictional Authority
As the lead U.S. maritime law-enforcement agency, the Coast Guard has broad, multifaceted Jurisdictional authority to combat the entire array of non-military threats to our nation's maritime security and is the only U.S. armed force not constrained by the Posse Comitatus Act. This translates into the authority to enforce federal law on board all vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction (including U.S., stateless, and, under certain circumstances, foreign vessels) in national and international waters. If a maritime threat does require a U.S. military response, the Coast Guard, because it is both an armed force and a law enforcement agency, has the inherent authorities and flexibility to respond in the most appropriate manner, alone or in close collaboration with the Navy or the naval services of countries that share our concerns.
Moreover, the Coast Guard is actively implementing the 2005 Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Plan that supports the National Strategy for Maritime Security. The plan builds on and improves the 1978 Presidential Directive on Procedures for Dealing with Non-Military Incidents (PD-27)-a process to ensure nationally coordinated maritime operational response to address all maritime security threats to, or directed against, the United States and its interests globally. The plan provides a clear, modern process for quickly vetting myriad U.S. interests and resource options, securing international cooperation when necessary and appropriate, and executing effective courses of action, including boarding suspect vessels at sea, investigating the facts, collecting evidence, and sorting out the jurisdiction of various states with interests in the matter.
The Coast Guard also makes a significant contribution to the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) that seeks to engage like-minded countries to interdict the transfer or transport of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-states of proliferation concern. One notable result to date has been the establishment of PSI bilateral agreements, which are modeled on counter-drug bilateral agreements pioneered by the Coast Guard. Indeed, the Coast Guard is a key participant in these bilateral negotiations led by the State Department.
Consequently, the Coast Guard planned and executed the November 2004 PSI maritime exercise conducted in the Caribbean. For the October 2004 PSI exercises held off Tokyo, the Japanese Government formally requested that the United States include Coast Guard forces in its contingent. The Japanese wanted the Coast Guard present primarily to emphasize the law enforcement nature of the exercises, as well as to draw on the Coast Guard's unequaled reputation and skill in boarding, conducting maritime searches, and constabulary duties.
Other Countries Want the Coast Guard
Acceptable Presence. Because of the Coast Guard's unique status, many countries routinely accent, desire, and explicitly request a Coast Guard maritime presence for developing maritime security capabilities. Vice Admiral Hans Holnistrom of the Finnish Navy pointed out that the overwhelming majority of the world's navies and coast guards are not blue-water, power-projection, sea-control navies, but coastal forces concerned about maritime security threats. It is usually extremely difficult for these international navies and coast guards to connect to the U.S. Navy's high-technology warships, especially the deep-draft, super-sized warships.
Numerous Caribbean and Central American governments have bilateral agreements allowing the Coast Guard to conduct law enforcement, search-and-rescue (SAR), and environmental protection missions in their territorial waters or authorizing combined maritime operations. Likewise, the Coast Guard and the People's Republic of China conduct annual SAR exercises, which continued even during periods in which U.S. Navy warships were barred from Chinese ports. And since mid-1997, the Coast Guard has collaborated with the Mexican Navy to conduct "coincidental operations" since they do not require formal agreements and are not prohibited by the Mexican Constitution, which is the case when the U.S. Navy wants to operate with the Mexican Navy.
As well as enhancing the maritime security capabilities of individual countries, the need exists to develop regional security arrangements. In the Pacific, the North Pacific Heads of Coast Guards Association (NPHCGA) has been working maritime security issues for the last few years. The association is composed of coast guards or equivalent agencies from Canada, Japan, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States. Its mission is to enhance multilateral maritime security and increase cooperation in enforcing fisheries treaties, combating illegal drug trafficking and illegal migration.
According to retired Royal Australian Commodore Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert specializing in Asia-Pacific affairs, coast guards are emerging as important national institutions in Asia and the Pacific, with the potential to make a major contribution to regional order and security. Even in the Arabian Gulf, a region with extensive U.S. naval presence, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in its November 2005 meeting agreed on the need to develop "coastguards" as means of protecting GCC states from maritime crimes. Turkish Navy Admiral Yener Kuruhanoglu described an excellent model of regional cooperation: "The Border Coordination and Information Center, located in Burgas. Bulgaria, and supported by six littoral coast guards, is a center of information regarding illegal activities in the Black Sea area."
Interagency Expertise. Building a global maritime security network requires the contributions of other entities besides navies and coast guards. Maritime security is more than physical security and deterrence from patrolling ships and aircraft of a global fleet. Maritime security is achieved by blending public and private maritime security activities on a global scale into a comprehensive, integrated effort that addresses all maritime threats. Maritime security demands a close partnership between governments and the private sector to put in place a rigorous maritime security regime for prevention.
The Coast Guard has significant maritime interagency expertise by virtue of its law enforcement, military, maritime, and multimission character, as well as its broad statutory missions, authorities, membership in the intelligence community, and robust interactions with the public and private sector, key industry organizations, and non-governmental organizations. These distinctions give the Coast Guard multiple access points into a host nation's governmental branches (transportation, interior, security, justice, defense, environmental, and others), and access and credibility to assist a partner nation to strengthen or develop layered, integrated, maritime regimes.
To this end, the U.S. Coast Guard led a global effort to develop the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. This framework requires ships subject to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, and port facilities that serve such ships, to enhance their security. The convention amendments and ISPS Code were adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2002 and became effective for 148 countries in July 2004, an unprecedented accomplishment in terms of speed and widespread acceptance by the world maritime community.
In addition, the Coast Guard and the Department of State jointly led the U.S. delegation to a recent diplomatic conference for amending the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) Convention. The amended SUA Convention requires states parties to identify and designate authorities to receive and respond to all boarding requests pursuant to the agreement. It is anticipated that the U.S. competent authority will be the Coast Guard. As the U.S. representative to IMO, as well as its leadership roles in numerous other international security and safety forums, the Coast Guard has established a wealth of civil-military-private relationships, partnerships, and networks covering all facets of maritime activity-the very bonds the U.S. Navy needs to make the 1,000-Ship Navy a success.
From Safety First to Security First
The importuna: of this was not lost on Turkish Admiral Karahanoglu: "The post-9/11 period saw the 'safety first' maxim in the maritime domain change into the 'security first' maxim, with chain reactions in many fields including economic, legal, operational, and technological."
Vice Admiral Russell E. Shalders of the Royal Australian Navy called this need tor interagency expertise, the "whole of government approach to maritime security." Along the same lines. German Vice Admiral Feldt noted that, "comprehensive security and safety can he ensured only in an inter-governmental approach. . . . This will also offer maritime options to be brought into effect more frequently in the future and enable them to he integrated into a comprehensive security concept."
Admirals Shalders and Feldt recognized that many nations have diverse agencies involved in maritime security. The programs and initiatives of these agencies must he integrated and aligned into a comprehensive, cohesive national effort of scaleahle, layered security. This includes full alignment and coordination with the private sector and other nations. Success in securing the maritime domain will not come by navies acting alone, but through a layered security system that integrates the full capabilities of governments and commercial interests throughout the world. The need for a strong integrated effort is reinforced by the fact that most of the maritime domain is under no one nation's sovereignty.
With regard to practicing interagency cooperation. Vice Admiral Shalders added. "In Australia, the establishment of a Joint Offshore Protection Command, a collaborative Defense-Customs organization led by a navy admiral and established within the Australian Customs Service, is an example of one nation's solution to interagency coordination." Admiral Alain Oudol de Dainville of the French Navy pointed out that, since the 19th century, the French Navy has assigned an active-duty admiral as the "prÃ©fet maritime" to address interagency coordination.
This Way Ahead
In March 2005, Army General John P. Abizaid. Commander, U.S. Central Command, without mentioning the 1,000-Ship Navy concept by name, made a strong case for including the Coast Guard. Responding to congressional questions on the role of the Coast Guard in his area of responsibility, he noted: "The navies of most nations in the Central Command region have missions that closely mirror those of the Coast Guard. . . . Additional [Coast Guard] officers would greatly facilitate efforts to expand maritime TSC (theater security cooperation) initiatives and significantly bolster engagement with regional maritime law enforcement agencies, which [Coast Guard] personnel are uniquely equipped and trained to support." Unfortunately for a variety of reasons, providing General Abizaid or any other combatant commander dedicated Coast Guard capabilities is a problem, despite the Coast Guard's compelling relevance and value.
However, relief may be on the way. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen and Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen have pledged both Sea Services to significantly enhanced cooperation and collaboration across the maritime board. Incorporating the Coast Guard into the 1,000-Ship Navy concept is an opportunity for them to transform their rhetoric into reality.
The Coast Guard should stand up a dedicated 300-person unit to support the development of this global maritime security network. Four key geographic combatant commanders-European, Pacific, Central, and Southern Commands-would each receive a 60-person subunit to provide two 30-person teams for continuous in-theater presence for maritime security and theater security cooperation missions. The staffs of these four combatant commanders would each have 10 people assigned for operational oversight and planning purposes; the remaining 20 people would be assigned to a Coast Guard staff unit for administrative oversight of the personnel assigned to the combatant commanders.
Now, the Hard Part
For the same reasons that the Department of Defense, through the Navy, has historically funded combat systems for use on Coast Guard ships and aircraft, the Defense Department should fund these 300 Coast Guard billets. The threats we face require, in large part, a human-on-human response: we are not facing threats per se that are machine-on-machine as we did in the Korean War. World War II, or in the Cold War. In the age of the global terrorist, the human is the combat system. The Department of Defense, the Navy, and the U.S. combatant commands should consider these Coast Guard billets as combat systems for this new age and fund them.
Moreover, it is unlikely that the Coast Guard on its own would ever receive budget authority for such a dedicated unit to provide full time support for the Defense Department and its combatant commanders. Convincing Congress and the administration to fund the Coast Guard for these increased international duties would be extremely difficult. because their collective understanding of the Coast Guard does not acknowledge such a significant overseas presence. As its name implies, many believe the Coast Guard should guard the coast.
In a world plagued with a burgeoning growth in terrorist and civilian maritime threats, the nation can ill afford not to use this national capability residing in the Coast Guard. Underscoring this integration are impending defense budget cuts to slow growth in fiscal deficits and to pay for the unprecedented costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism, along with a full plate of expensive domestic social programs and several hundred billion dollars for Gulf Coast recovery in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In such a threat-rich hut resource-constrained environment, the Navy and the Coast Guard must work together.
Captain Stubbs is a national security consultant at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in McLean, Virginia. He is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and retired in 2000 after 30 years' service.