The maritime commons have become more important than at any time in history, particularly so to nations bordered by the sea. The maritime border approaches to the United States begin in the ports of other countries; therefore, such threats bound for America are best engaged and neutralized as far away as naval capability, jurisdiction, and authority allow. The U.S. National Security Strategy states that we will “ensure the constant flow of commerce . . . safeguard the [sea] domain from those who would deny access or use them for hostile purposes. This includes keeping strategic straits and vital sea lanes open, improving the early detection of emerging maritime threats.” The Coast Guard and Navy have the authority to achieve these objectives, but their ability to patrol on the high seas is atrophying.
The Coast Guard’s major cutter fleet and operational focus are in direct alignment with America’s National Security Strategy. More specifically, the service’s operational concept for homeland security and defense provides for a layered presence with appropriately equipped cutters to conduct a full range of maritime operations.