The Coast Guard’s Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME) rating was established in 2010 to create a workforce that prioritized the service’s law-enforcement mission. For too long, the Coast Guard’s core law-enforcement function was considered a collateral duty by boat coxswains, bridge watchstanders, engineers, and other specialists. The perception of law-enforcement duties as a sub-specialty would have persisted had it not been for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which reprioritized the service’s missions. The subsequent creation of maritime safety and security teams, and a new emphasis on security and law-enforcement proficiency generated the impetus to finally create a rating solely dedicated to maritime law enforcement (MLE).
However, from its inception the ME rating suffered from an inadequately defined purpose beyond a general notion that having MEs would be an improvement, and flawed assumptions that have negatively impacted its implementation. The time has come to reassess, redefine, and revise the purpose and direction of the ME rating.
2. Charles Bowen, Jeffrey Smith, and George Ingraham, “Coast Guard Law Enforcement/Security—the Way Ahead in the 21st Century,” 5 May 2003.
3. “Announcement of Active Duty Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME) Rating Lateral Selection Results,” ALCGPSC 067/09, 10 November 2009; Maritime Enforcement Specialist (ME) Rating–SITREP One, ALCOAST 243/11, 12 May 2011.