Some say this is “The Era of the Coast Guards” for Asian nations.1 Amid conversations about the return to great power competition, gray zone aggression, and fait accompli actions, however, the U.S. Coast Guard has been left out. As part of the Department of Homeland Security, its statutory missions include law enforcement and facilitating maritime traffic, but it also is prepared to assist in the national defense should it be called back to the Department of Defense. This dual-hat nature makes the Coast Guard a valuable force in competition below the threshold of armed conflict. It needs to be closer to the center of U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region to allow the United States to compete with China symmetrically and to complement existing Navy and Marine Corps strategies.2
4. James E. Fanell and Kerry K. Gershaneck, “White Warships and Little Blue Men: The Looming ‘Short, Sharp War’ in the East China Sea over the Senkakus,” Marine Corps University Journal 8, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 70–76. “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019,” report to Congress, Office of the Secretary of Defense (2019), 71.
8. ADM Karl L. Schultz, USCG, Coast Guard Strategic Plan 2018–2022, U.S. Coast Guard (November 2018), 4.
9. GEN James Mattis, USMC (Ret.), National Defense Strategy, Department of Defense (2018), 4.
14. Fanell and Gershaneck, “White Warships and Little Blue Men.”
18. “Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, 22 May 2019, 16.