Successfully Integrating Ops, Intel, and Cryptology
By Rear Admiral (Select) Cathal O’Connor, Lieutenant Commander Wolf Melbourne, and Lieutenant Commander Chad Layfield, U.S. Navy
There are many challenges in coordinating and integrating the information-dominance specialties of intelligence, cryptology, meteorology, information ops, and electronic warfare at sea. The Information Dominance Corps (IDC) is methodically working to doctrinally close the integration gaps between specialties to maximize our warfighting ability.
While serving as commodore, staff intelligence officer (N-2), and staff cryptologic resource coordinators (CRCs) in the forward-deployed naval forces in the 7th Fleet, we found that the successful integration of operations, intelligence, and cryptology came from three actions: maintaining a flat command structure in the embarked staff; actively encouraging it through meetings, education, and accountability; and leveraging the embarked Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) detachment’s warfighting capabilities and expertise to train the amphibious ready group/Marine expeditionary unit (ARG/MEU).
Four factors contributed to the success of these actions:
- Assembling and maintaining an IDC cohort of motivated and knowledgeable N-2s, CRCs, staff systems and networks officers (N-6s), ship intelligence officers, and command, control, communications, computers, collaboration, and intelligence (C5I) officers, working together on a daily basis to integrate their respective pieces.
- Providing engaged leadership at the commodore and commanding officer level.
- Maintaining a focus on keeping up with the capabilities the IDC was developing, testing, and deploying.
- Training sailors to operate and maintain a network of intelligence, cryptologic, and combat systems that freely exchanged data, information, and knowledge.
Developing an IDC Cohort
Building a motivated and knowledgeable IDC cohort begins at the IDC basic course, which provides all officers with the same initial baseline before attending their designator-specific training. This strengthens the familiarity and relationships needed across IDC designators from the first day of an officer’s career.
The cohort also needs the right people with the right knowledge, skills, and experience in the right operational milestone tours. The IDC will eventually require CRCs, N-6s, and deputy information warfare commanders (DIWCs) to have at-sea experience as division officers in a deployed ship’s cryptologic, electronic warfare, or communication spaces. This provides an understanding of signals intelligence afloat, shipboard communications, and network infrastructure required for those demanding operational afloat milestone billets. The IDC has also re-energized the CRC and DIWC courses, which are under regular revision with fleet feedback to prepare officers for these challenging assignments.
Finally, the information professional (IP) and surface warfare officer (SWO) communities are piloting the IP division officer program. SWO IP option officers will serve as a ship’s communications officer and then be assigned to IP 1820-coded billets after their division officer tour. The next step is a shipboard IDC department head in charge of the cryptologic, electronic warfare, and communication divisions, which is being demonstrated on the USS Normandy (CG-60) and San Jacinto (CG-56). Combined, these steps provide a path to develop and deploy experienced IDC officers in mid-career operational milestone tours.
An ideal leader embraces his or her ignorance and visits the analysts in the intelligence, systems, or signals exploitation spaces on a daily basis. That level of attention motivates junior operators and makes for a better-educated leader who can ask progressively harder and more informed questions. This personal engagement and accountability brings the “less motivated” entities into the fold.
Staying up to date on IDC capabilities was relatively simple when in port. But once we deployed, our perspective narrowed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. It took a deliberate and dedicated effort to remain connected and maintain situational awareness of the developing and newly deployed capabilities in the United States and other numbered fleets. But once detachments embarked for certification and deployment, we redoubled our efforts to learn how each software revision or “new black box” improved our ability to sense and understand the electromagnetic environment.
Operating and maintaining a coherent network of intelligence, cryptologic, and combat systems that freely exchanged data, information, and knowledge was the most challenging factor impacting our success. Many variables are largely out of the control of afloat forces. Money, time, and readiness condition all influence how well systems enable information dominance integration.
The Distributed Common Ground System–Navy (DCGS-N) was a big step forward in integrating systems afloat, but more needs to be done to move information obtained in the ship’s cryptologic spaces to the combat information center, supplemental plot, and expeditionary plot fusion centers. In our enthusiasm to provide the latest capabilities to the fleet, we develop and field equipment faster than schools can train operators and maintainers. This required the ship’s force to identify a smart and motivated sailor to remain on board for an additional year. Over the next six months, in port and under way, that sailor trained a team of operators and maintainers. He used his experience, the DCGS-N help desk on weekdays, and when all else failed, sent casualty reports requesting an assist visit. Through trial and error, his team developed the institutional knowledge and proficiency to operate and maintain the system, but this is not a long-term plan for success. A better solution would fully fund forward-deployed technicians to assist with the maintenance and train ship’s personnel until sufficient institutional knowledge is developed.
Planning and Execution at Sea
We successfully integrated information dominance specialties at the single ship, multi-ship, and ARG/MEU levels, and maintained that integration during exercises, contingencies, and classified national missions. We did so by having a flat chain of command on the squadron staff, synchronizing with the flagship, keeping a strategic perspective, and driving integration down to the tactical level. Each morning at 0700, we met and briefed on the daily ship and aircraft operations, cryptologic and intelligence-collection plans, and network and system status and maintenance plans. This ensured that the IDC cohort received the commander’s guidance and provided the cohort’s requirements, capabilities, and limitations. It required the commander to admit when the IDC cohort had exceeded his level of experience, and for the cohort to identify less than optimal decisions, report bad news, and provide solutions.
The cohort and its flagship counterparts had follow-on synchronization meetings, which base-lined all of the IDC subspecialties and synchronized efforts. These meetings identified network or system outages and C5I maintenance that would impact our operations, intelligence collection, or cryptologic tasking, and devised mitigation efforts to complete our mission and inform leadership ahead of time.
As forward-deployed naval forces in Japan, we were concurrently planning and executing three deployments: the current deployment, the next deployment, and the one after that. This rolling model gave the commander and the IDC cohort a strategic perspective of all the missions and allowed the team to recognize changes—and more important, how they impacted national (strategic level), theater (operational level) and ARG/MEU (tactical level) tasking.
At the tactical level, we drove integration by mandating the communication between signal intelligence watch standers and those in the expeditionary plot fusion center to ensure information was exchanged on every new contact of interest. This improved tactical integration and situational awareness and enhanced indications and warning across the ARG/MEU and the fleet.
Integrating the NIOC Detachment
Fleet Cyber Command provided the commander of Amphibious Squadron 11, embarked in the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Amphibious Ready Group (BHR ARG), with information operations detachments sourced from the Hawaii, San Diego, and Yokosuka Navy NIOCs. The officers in charge (OICs) were responsible for melding 11 sailors from three separate commands into a cohesive information warfare watch team while supporting the ARG’s high operational tempo of five scheduled deployments every two years. This was especially challenging during the odd calendar years, when there were only three to six weeks between deployments.
At the same time, we assigned the NIOC detachment with OIC duties as information operations planner and information warfare watch officer, augmenting the permanently assigned COMPHIBRON 11 DIWC. Throughout deployment, the NIOC detachments embedded themselves in the IWC watchstanding organization and provided tactical environment awareness and shaping. They reported relevant, time-perishable information to the COMPHIBRON 11 Joint Operations Center, 31st MEU Landing Force Operations Center, warfare commanders, unit tactical action officers, and EW modules.
Over the course of a deployment we leveraged the NIOC’s experience to:
- Analyze thousands of time-sensitive intelligence reports, disseminate dozens of reports, identify relevant information on several dozen contacts of interest, and provide real-world and exercise indications and warnings to multiple U.S. and partner-nation units.
- Present dozens of electronic intelligence highlight briefs and produce product verification reports that resulted in critical updates to national databases.
- Devise, coordinate, and execute deception in support of operations during Exercise Talisman Sabre, which the commander of the 7th Fleet commended for its thoroughness and forethought.
- Participate in a COMPHIBRON 11 analytic effort that focused on an area of interest in a Pacific Command Operations Plan planning efforts. The resulting 40-slide assessment was used to develop future warfighting and planning efforts.
- Focus on regional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, resulting in a unique tactical environment awareness and shaping opportunity that was briefed to the commander of the 7th Fleet and forwarded to the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. At the same time, we deployed members of the NIOC detachment across the force to provide training assist visits.
- Conduct underway EW assistance visits that assessed readiness with an afloat training group checklist and provided hands-on training to officers and operators.
- Provide generic area-limitation environment training to every BHR ARG EW module and embarked Radio Battalion Marine. This enhanced blue-green interoperability, improved joint cryptologic capabilities, and enabled every sensor to contribute to the 7th Fleet common operating picture.
- Train Joint Intelligence Center and EW module personnel to produce a specific electronic intelligence product routinely requested by intelligence personnel.
- Conduct computer-network defense assistance visits that trained information technology and network security personnel and provided each commanding officer with comprehensive recommendations for improvement. This significantly increased network security and enabled BHR ARG to counter cyber attacks and defend the ship against exercise and real-world threats.
In summary, COMPHIBRON 11 and the Bonhomme Richard ARG built a flat command structure, drove integration between ship operations and information-dominance tasking, and leveraged the embarked NIOC detachment’s warfighting capabilities and expertise to train the ARG/MEU, increasing the fleet’s warfighting capability across all platforms.
Rear Admiral (Select) O’Connor is the Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Policy, & Requirements for Naval Forces Europe and Africa and the 6th Fleet.
Lieutenant Commander Melbourne is assigned to the Pacific Fleet Intelligence and Information Operations Directorate (N-2/N-39).
Lieutenant Commander Layfield is the executive officer of the Center for Information Dominance, Corry Station.
The authors deployed together multiple times as the Commander, N-2 and N-9 of Amphibious Squadron 11/Task Group 76.4 in Sasebo, Japan.
Understanding Security Cooperation
By Michael McCrabb
Today’s Navy must address a growing range of security threats in concert with our maritime partners. By design, we have an extraordinary maritime tool set to help shape those partnerships and enable global networks. The key is to ensure that Navy staffs know what tools are available and can then determine how best to use them to develop the most effective partnerships and networks. This is a work in progress.
U.S. Navy officers and sailors prepare for the tenet of “warfighting first” throughout their careers, operating forward, ready to respond as necessary. Today, however, the value of operating with and fighting alongside our maritime partners is greater than ever, as highlighted in the concept of a “global network of navies.”1 We have equipped allies with Aegis ship platforms, SM-3 missiles, EA-18G Growlers, P-8s, MH-60Rs, and a variety of other modern U.S. Navy hardware, and we continue to open new opportunities to train and exercise with partners in more realistic scenarios. Expanding information and technology transfer agreements, cooperative deployments, new fleet synthetic training capabilities, and fresh academic and tactical relationships are emerging.
Fleet partnership stations continue to grow new maritime-security capabilities, open doors with humanitarian-assistance efforts, and expand international maritime domain awareness networks to cover an ever increasing percentage of the global commons. Such activities, among others, fall under the label of security cooperation, which is defined as:
All [DOD] interactions with foreign establishments to build defense relationships that promote specific U.S. security interests, develop allied and friendly military capabilities for self-defense and multinational operations, and provide U.S. forces with peacetime and contingency access to a host nation.2
The size of the current U.S. Navy security-cooperation effort is immense, and the list of players is considerable. The Navy’s 2013 Campaign Support Plan, which accounts for scheduled Navy security-cooperation events, was over 460 pages long. The 2014 version is over 550 pages. Navy personnel involved in executing security cooperation activities are spread across the force: regional staffs, including naval component commands and numbered fleet staffs, commands involved in foreign military sales (FMS) and other security assistance programs, OPNAV staff, the foreign-area officer community scattered worldwide, learning centers and professional military education institutions, commands and staffs in the continental United States conducting various engagement events, and other commands identified as security cooperation enabling commands. Finally, there are the deployed operational and Reserve units conducting theater security cooperation activities worldwide, in addition to fulfilling their primary role as ready warfighters in waiting.
Building Partnership Value
Today’s challenge is to blend all Navy security-cooperation events—theater engagement activities, security-assistance activities (including FMS equipment and training activities), senior officer dialogues, personnel exchanges, information-sharing forums, and other initiatives—into a unified effort for shaping partnerships. For most partner nations, there are hundreds of Navy security-cooperation events per country per year conducted worldwide, and no single Navy staff is manned or trained to put a full country or regional picture together. Regional Navy component command staffs have cognizance of theater-security cooperation events. OPNAV staff coordinates headquarters engagement activities while the Navy International Programs Office and systems commands manage FMS and related activities. The Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval War College educate hundreds of international defense students annually, while Navy learning centers train thousands more. The Offices of Naval Research and Naval Intelligence have partnership initiatives as well. Bringing unity to these efforts is no easy task.
Consider some of the aspects affecting Navy security cooperation event coordination. For example:
- Security cooperation is just one part of the Defense Department’s country plans, and an even smaller part of the overall U.S. government strategy per country.
- Many security-assistance activities, as a subset of security cooperation, focus on developing good governance: civilian control of defense sectors, transparency, good resource management practices, anti-corruption measures, Rule of Law, and internationally recognized standards of human rights. One might be surprised to see such events included among Navy efforts, but they can be powerful tools for preventing conflict.
- There is keen competition for access and influence. Many of our partner nations are recipients of security cooperation initiatives from other countries as well, some without democratically based strings attached.
The 2013 Maritime Security Cooperation Policy (MSCP) identifies a well-defined planning cycle for executing theater activities. Conducting accurate assessments to determine partner-nation defense shortfalls and identifying attainable capacity-building measures are important first steps in the planning cycle. But sustainability matters. Staff planners must ascertain whether a partner nation has the resources and willingness to maintain new defense capabilities.
Valid post-event assessments are critical as well, and they are required.3 Congressional attention to DOD security-assistance activities in which U.S. tax dollars are invested can be an opportunity to highlight successes. Too often they have had the opposite impact.4
Some events may not be in regional staffs’ normal “scan pattern.” Knowing where a partner nation’s U.S. Naval War College or Joint Forces Staff College graduates are assigned might be useful to a regional staff planner. That information is available if one knows where to look. Likewise, planners should be cognizant of information-sharing agreements early in a staff tour.
Having a long view is important. Knowing what a partner’s defense capabilities were ten years ago and where they want to be ten years henceforth gives one a critical perspective in setting up tomorrow’s security cooperation event lineup.
History reveals that the value of humanitarian-assistance/disaster-response missions can be extraordinary in terms of gaining access/influence, especially if naval efforts are well coordinated with the overall U.S. government effort.5
Security-cooperation activities, especially when exercising warfighting skills, can be severely restricted by information-disclosure limitations. FMS initiatives, cross-deck opportunities, cooperative deployment events, and officer-exchange programs are also impacted. A new staff planner may not recognize when a U.S-partner nation relationship has outgrown its current disclosure limits. For example, a country adding air-defense capability through U.S. FMS acquisition may be operating under outdated disclosure limits, restricting interoperability. Staff planners need to understand what assets are available to help initiate disclosure adjustments and open new opportunities for exercises and warfighting.
Knowledge Gaps and Solutions
An emerging maritime security cooperation framework is intended to produce this increased value from the mass of security cooperation activity. Current framework development efforts, however, indicate a limited understanding among staffs of the full scope. For example:
The MSCP only addresses theater security-cooperation activities, bypassing the entire scope of FMS and other security-assistance programs. To achieve “an integrated maritime approach to [security cooperation] in order to support national security objectives,” as it proposes, the policy must incorporate security assistance programs and activities.
The Navy must grow security cooperation expertise quickly. We are the only service without a security-cooperation planner’s course, and few planners arrive at their staff assignments with an adequate understanding of security cooperation. Too often, planning considerations are learned on the job. There are resources to help avoid this: The U.S. Marine Corps has an excellent security-cooperation planner’s course; the Naval Warfare Development Command has a guide; and Derek Reveron, of the Naval War College staff, wrote Exporting Security, one of the first books to highlight security cooperation.
Regional component command staffs do the majority of theater security-cooperation planning, but execution is spread across a variety of maritime commands. A maturing maritime-security cooperation approach is best achieved collectively among the maritime services. An annual forum to address event coordination, planning, execution, training, lessons learned, and innovation is particularly important as part of framework development.
The Global Theater Security Cooperation Management Information System is an emerging source of security cooperation data. This new resource will help plan and assess events through situational awareness of past, present, and future events. But it will take time, effort, and creativity for planners and policy makers to determine how the system can best be used.
Until we put organizational mechanisms in place to coordinate all Navy security-cooperation efforts, our efforts to shape maritime partnerships and enable global networks will be suboptimized. Additionally, there are still prominent government voices warning of negative consequences from using U.S. forces in activities other than warfighting. Our national leadership, however, continues to embrace security cooperation as a primary mission of the U.S. armed forces.6 A well thought-out defense-security cooperation policy—one that develops strong defense partnerships and effective coalition warfighting skills to support diplomatic and development efforts—can prevent conflict and help achieve national objectives of global security and stability. The maritime component of that policy is evolving and it will take considerable thought, innovation, foresight, and coordination among the security cooperation community to reach its potential for growing partnerships.
2. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Joint Publication 1-02, www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1_02.pdf.
3. “Maritime Security Cooperation Policy: An Integrated Navy-Marine Corps-Coast Guard Approach,” January 2013, www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Med%20Res%20Maritime%20Security%20Cooperation_An%20Integrated_USN-USMC-USCG_Approach%20w%20PCN.pdf, 10.
4. “Building Partner Capacity: Key Practices to Effectively Manage Department of Defense Efforts to Promote Security Cooperation,” Government Accountability Organization Report, GAO-13-335T, 14 February 2013, www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-335T.
5. Jennifer D. P. Moroney, Stephanie Pizard, Laurel E. Miller, Jeffrey Engstrom, and Abby Doll, Lessons on Department of Defense Relief Efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region, 2013, Rand Corporation, www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR100/RR146/RAND_RR146.pdf.
6. Department of Defense, 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Strategic_Guidance.pdf, 5.
Mr. McCrabb retired from the Navy in 2001 and is currently the strategic planner for the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity in Pensacola, Florida.
Counter-narcotics Tactics in the Western Hemisphere
By Captain Edward Westfall, Commander Patrick Peschka, and Lieutenant Joseph DiRenzo IV, U.S. Coast Guard
There are few greater shared experiences for a Coast Guard crew than to successfully interdict a go-fast vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics. It is a culmination of training and coordination among different elements of the crew and, often, several external stakeholders. These interdictions do not happen by chance and often involve multiple Coast Guard and Navy vessels, helicopters, and maritime patrol aircraft working together in an organized manner, supported by dedicated intelligence. It underscores the very essence of the term “unity of effort.”
A drug smuggling interdiction may be likened to a choreographed dance or a well prepared meal. Each asset must perform a certain task at a precise moment in time to successfully apprehend the smugglers, vessel, and contraband. An increased number of such coordinated interdictions are envisioned in the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere strategy, which calls for a greater Coast Guard presence in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific to combat transnational organized crime. This strategy includes not only service-specific assets and capabilities but also the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, government agencies and departments, and international partner nations.
The Coast Guard has established itself as the premier maritime law-enforcement agency, and its personnel have become the nation’s experts in counter-narcotics operations in known drug transit zones in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. For the last several decades, cutters have taken a single unit approach to preparing for and executing the counter-drug mission. Tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) have been developed for single cutter operations. Little guidance is published on how Coast Guard cutters (and attached small boats and helicopters) should integrate with other Coast Guard cutters and DHS, DOD, and partner-nation assets. Tactical decision makers generally learn and practice tactics through osmosis based on observations from previous tours. Instead, counter-drug tactics should be taught in a more systematic manner. Training should be mandatory for all decision makers who will be involved in combating transnational criminal organizations to provide commonality when preparing for and executing the counter-drug mission.
The Meaning of “Tactics”
When discussing the importance of teaching and practicing “tactics,” it is important to have a clear definition. According to Coast Guard Publication 1, “our ability to be flexible accounts for our strategic, operational, and tactical success in our assigned responsibilities.” Our current discussion exists above the TTPs of a single asset (such as a small boat or helicopter) and below the operational coordination conducted at joint command, such as Joint Interagency Task Force South. It instead encompasses the combined efforts of multiple assets (cutters, helicopters, and small boats) from different services and agencies in the United States and partner nations.
An appropriate definition of tactics may be found in Naval Doctrine Publication 1: “The tactical level focuses on planning and executing battles, engagements, and actions to achieve military objectives assigned to tactical units or task forces.” In relation to the Coast Guard’s counter-narcotics mission, tactics may be considered the appropriate actions required to successfully apprehend smugglers and contraband to achieve successful case prosecution and in turn gather additional intelligence and information to further combat transnational criminal organizations.
Presently, Coast Guard tactics that combine the capabilities of the cutter, helicopter, and small boat as a complex/multi-dimensional force package, which may be deployed with other U.S. or partner nation assets for a successful interdiction, are not fully developed. The Coast Guard has done a fantastic job developing concise TTPs for pursuit tactics used by the over-the- horizon crews and airborne use-of-force tactics used by Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron units. Our organization could improve unit success by developing a set of tactics that combine over-the-horizon, helicopter, and cutter crews into one unit that may be used with other authorities for successful case prosecution.
There must be a single thread that runs through doctrine, strategy, tactics, and TTPs. Granted, each interdiction situation requires unique analysis; however, several patterns have emerged in cutter, helicopter, and small boat force packages over the years. There is currently no method to distribute these lessons learned beyond ad hoc sharing. There are no formal schools for tactical decision makers besides the Navy’s Tactical Action Officer School, but it does not touch on the topic of tactical planning and execution for counter-drug deployments. Furthermore, there are no multi-cutter training scenarios or opportunities in which tactical decision makers can practice executing a coherent plan. As an organization, we must do better than simply “showing up and figuring it out.”
A system should be established for training operational decision makers as well as published guidelines using simulation. An examination of the way the Navy prepares for particular missions through the use of tailored training cycles may be a way to provide cutters, helicopters, and small boat teams with the training to be a successful combined asset force package.
Navy Decision Making
When conducting operations as a strike group, the U.S. Navy has a distinctive way to train units to operate together. According to the Navy’s Surface Forces Training Manual, there are three distinct phases that larger Navy vessels use to prepare for military deployments. The first is the maintenance phase, which starts the fleet response training plan. After a distinctive maintenance period, the unit starts the basic phase, which “focuses on ensuring unit level training proficiency, team training capability on board and ashore, unit level exercises inport and at sea, unit inspections, assessments, and certification.” During this period, the unit receives support and assistance from the afloat training group in any deficient training areas. The final phase of the mission training cycle is the “integrated phase” with the goal to “synthesize unit/staff actions into coordinated strike group operations in a challenging, multi-warfare operational environment.” Specifically, this portion of the training cycle provides “an opportunity for strike group decision makers and watch standers to complete staff planning and warfare commanders courses; conduct multi-unit in port and at-sea training.” In this training cycle, units ensure first that their vessel is operational from an engineering standpoint, then capable of conducting operations as a single unit, and finally able to function within a strike group.
This transition from a single-unit focus to multi-unit operability does not occur in a structured manner when the U.S. Coast Guard conducts counter-drug operations. There are no standard drills or guidance that cover how multi-cutter counter-narcotic training should be held. This becomes problematic when counter-narcotics operations require several units to pool assets in order to effect a successful interdiction. Often, with several helicopter-embarked platforms in the operating area, two or more helicopters or small boats may be launched in support of a specific interdiction from different cutters. Without formal training, appropriate doctrine, and the ability to practice tactical planning and execution in a controlled environment, the possibility of mission failure increases.
To better fight transnational organized crime, we must, as an organization, establish a mechanism for translating the requirements of doctrine and strategy to concrete actions that tactical decision makers may deploy through a unified set of counter-drug tactics. A reasonable first step would be to organize an action group that aligns requirements at the strategic, operational, and tactical level. Once a set of agreed-upon tactics has been established, the next step would be to ensure all tactical decision makers are following the same “playbook.” This may be accomplished by forming schools that focus on teaching tactical planning for counter-drug operations and the development of a set of standard training requirements. Training should be budgeted at the Coast Guard–area level when planning cutter deployment and large cutter commands should have the opportunity to practice integrated and/or joint tactics before entering the operational area.
Understanding the time required to make significant organizational changes may be expensive and slow. Operational decision makers could receive training by using cutter simulators with scenarios created for the counter-drug mission. The command cadre on cutters would gain experience coordinating interdiction efforts among several different platforms and units with little cost to the organization. A further study may be undertaken on the feasibility and benefit of using simulators for operational decision makers.
To effectively execute certain facets of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere strategy, the Coast Guard must place emphasis on a more integrated approach to large cutter deployment for the counter-drug mission. A concise set of tactics should be developed and taught to tactical decision makers in the Coast Guard, DHS, DOD, and partner nations. Additionally, the Coast Guard must examine the training decision makers on major cutters receive to conduct counter-drug missions. Units must learn to implement multiple assets (cutter, helicopters, and small boats) toward a single goal. This may be accomplished by creating training tailored to tactical decision makers as well as opportunities for cutters to practice deploying forces as a group before entering the operational area. Simulator training should be investigated as one option to bridge the gap until a more permanent solution is established.
Captain Westfall is the commanding officer of the USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719). He is also experienced in international engagement, joint duty, and interagency cooperation. He recently served as the Chief of Arctic Strategy at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
Commander Peschka is the commanding officer of the USCGC Escanaba (WMEC-907). Before that, he was the Boutwell’s executive officer.
Lieutenant DiRenzo is the Boutwell’s operations officer. He completed his Masters of Science in natural gas engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.