The emergence of the east African pirate scourge puts a new spin on a familiar threat vector for the U.S. Coast Guard. As attacks become more brazen and the pirates develop new tactics, it is only a matter of time before a serious incident threatens America's domestic security. While there is no argument that the illegal seizure of commercial property and hostages overseas affects public trust in the global economy, the Coast Guard's counternarcotics and homeland security missions must be viewed through a different lens.
Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, wrote in the October issue of Proceedings that "the small vessel threat is more insidious since the enemy is not as apparent among the thousands of other legitimate recreational and commercial vessels operating inside our coastal waters." Counternarcotics and countermigrant patrols are nothing new to the Coast Guard. The Seventh District in Miami and the Operations Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) routinely protect the southeastern shore and Caribbean areas. The success of the Somali pirates must serve as a warning to Coast Guard crews everywhere.