The next great power conflict probably will be fought in the Pacific islands—dispersed, mobile, and inside China’s weapons engagement zone. U.S. Marines will vie to seize or hold island bastions to contain China’s expansion with long-range, land-based missiles, while a hull-starved U.S. Navy attempts to maintain open lines of communication.1 To win, the joint force will need local superiority in the littorals provided by inexpensive, expertly crewed, risk-worthy combatants that punch above their weight. That is a job for Coast Guard patrol boats (WPBs).
1. Megan Eckstein, “Lawmakers Say New Budget Hurts Competition with China for Naval Power, Shipbuilding,” USNI News, 4 March 2020, news.usni.org/2020/03/04/lawmakers-say-new-budget-hurts-competition-with-china-for-naval-power-shipbuilding.
2. GEN David H. Berger, USMC, Force Design 2030 (Headquarters Marine Corps, 2020), 5.
3. Berger, Force Design, 3.
4. Berger, 3.
5. Robert R. Bulkley Jr, At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2003), 1.
6. U.S. Coast Guard, “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress,” 5 May 2020, 12.
7. U.S. Coast Guard, “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement,” 13.
8. Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller, “Trump Keeps Talking about the Last Military Standoff with Iran—Here’s What Really Happened,” ProPublica, 24 June 2019, propublica.org/article/trump-keeps-talking-about-last-military-standoff-iran-what-really-happened-farsi-island-navy.
9. CDR Carlos Crespo, USCG, Mark Porvaznik, and Jen Sokolower, “U.S. Boat Program Discussion,” 6 December 2019, dcms.uscg.mil/Portals/10/CG-9/Surface/Boats/WorkBoat%202019%20Boats%20Program%20Brief.pdf?ver=2020-01-22-112250-497.
10. Berger, Force Design, 3.
11. Daniel A. Jones, “Cyclone (PC-1),” Naval History and Heritage Command, 6 November 2018, history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/c/cyclone-pc-1.html.
12. Berger, Force Design, 8.
13. “Kongsberg Naval and Joint Strike Missile Update,” Precision Strike Annual Review (PSAR-14) Conference, 18–19 March 2014, https://ndiastorage.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ndia/2014/PSAR/albright.pdf.
14. William H. Thiesen, “The Long Blue Line: Holly Harrison—Bronze Star Recipient of Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Coast Guard Compass, 29 March 2018, coastguard.dodlive.mil/2018/03/tlbl-holly-harrison/.
15. Megan Eckstein, “VIDEO: Iranian Attack Boats Harass U.S. Navy, Coast Guard Vessels in Persian Gulf, USNI News, 15 April 2020, news.usni.org/2020/04/15/video-iranian-attack-boats-harass-u-s-navy-coast-guard-vessels-in-persian-gulf.
16. Sam LaGrone, “USS John S. McCain Back to Sea after Completing Repairs from Fatal 2017 Collisions,” USNI News, 28 October 2019, news.usni.org/2019/10/27/uss-john-s-mccain-back-to-sea-after-completing-repairs-from-fatal-2017-collision.
17. Berger, Force Design, 3, 6.
18. Berger, 11.