Interagency Coordination and the Sector Command Center-Joint

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The importance of effective communication between various agencies in the government cannot be overstated in the post-9/11 world. The Coast Guard and its partners go a long way in creating an integrated communication system that reinforces the concept of information sharing. One such effort was the creation of the Sector Command Center–Joint (SCC-J), sometimes referred to as Joint Harbor Operation Centers (JHOCs). Currently four such SCC-Js exist; San Diego, CA; Hampton Roads, VA; Seattle, WA; and Jacksonville, FL.

Members of the SCC-J can include local, state and federal agencies. Each agency provides its own area of expertise while partnering with the other members of the SCC-J. The SCC-J concept utilizes each agency’s strength and operates as a significant force multiplier. Although physically located together, each individual SCC-J member maintains his or her own identity and does not lose the ability to function independently.

The ceremonial cutting of the ribbon at the Puget Sound Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC). The official party (from left to right) Capt. Stephen Metruck, the Commanding Officer of Sector Seattle, Jayson P. Ahern, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner, Adm. Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard, Rear Adm. Frank M. Drennan, Commander of Submarine Group TRIDENT and Chief John R. Batiste, Chief of the Washington State Patrol.

SCC-J coordination and cooperation occurs daily. Here are a couple of recent joint operation success stories….

  • On June 9, 2009, the Coast Guard received a call from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about a suspected migrant landing near Del Mar, California. While CBP detained 19 of the suspected migrants, the Coast Guard Cutter Haddock intercepted the fleeing vessel and detained three additional members of the migrant boat who were then transferred to CBP. The SCC-J at Coast Guard Sector San Diego played a significant role in this evolution by facilitating communication between the various agencies. Click here to watch a video of this case on the Coast Guard’s Visual Information gallery.
  • Within the past week, the SCC-J in San Diego had another successful joint operation. While conducting a boarding, Coast Guard law enforcement team members detected the possibility of drugs on a vessel. The law enforcement team relayed this information to the SCC-J. The watchstanders then coordinated a joint search of the vessel with the San Diego Harbor Police, which resulted in the discovery and seizure of illegal drugs and the arrest of involved parties.

While some might think that working in such a close environment with various agencies would breed competition, this is not the case in the SCC-J. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. Agencies within the SCC-J see their missions as complimentary, crediting all those involved in any successful operation. Members of the SCC-J see themselves operating on the same team and with the same end goal. With this kind of mindset, the public wins.

Hmmm, what’s that cliché used by business types? Oh ya, it’s called a “win-win situation.”


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