Written by Vice Adm. Charles Michel, Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Operations.
On March 13, the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps released a revision to our tri-Service maritime strategy: A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower – Forward, Engaged, Ready. Today, I joined my counterparts from America’s Sea Services to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on how this strategy implements our collective approach to confronting national security threats from and on the sea.
Last week, the Commandant explained the significance of the newly-signed strategy and its overarching goals. I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss the strategy in a different light and touch on some ways that the strategy will affect you, our workforce.
A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower is a revision to a strategy we signed with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps in 2007 and shows a continued commitment to our relationship with them in countering threats and challenges from or on the sea. It does not replace other Coast Guard strategies, such as our Arctic Strategy or Western Hemisphere strategy, as these documents explain what we do in these parts of the world and support our united tri-Service strategy.
Although A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower is focused on our partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, it is not just about the Coast Guard’s defense operations mission. It includes all Coast Guard missions and how they promote maritime safety and security. The work you do often creates conditions that prevent conflict between nations and ensure a thriving global economy. Even with the strategy’s and the Coast Guard’s global focus, the Western Hemisphere remains our highest priority.
Responding to deteriorating security conditions in Central America, we’ve surged additional cutters and aircraft in support of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere strategy. The Western Hemisphere strategy focuses on countering transnational organized crime networks, securing our borders and protecting commerce. We will also continue to operate around the world not only in support of joint operations, but to execute Coast Guard missions as well.
Our global partnerships and capabilities make us a valued instrument for national security. Our ice-breaking fleet ensures surface access to the Arctic and Antarctic. We have relationships with nations grounded in our law enforcement and humanitarian missions. This is what makes us uniquely equipped to deal with nations that normally would not work with the U.S. on military issues. Additionally, most of the world’s navies match the Coast Guard in terms of size and mission sets, making us an ideal role model and partner. To continue our forward presence and global engagement, we need to take steps to ensure our force will meet future challenges.
Now more than ever, we need a specialized and diverse workforce supported by the boats, cutters and aircraft that can meet the challenges of the future. The Coast Guard’s cyber mission and an increase in domestic energy production will require adapting our workforce in the future to meet these growing demands on Coast Guard mission sets.
The strategy outlines the Coast Guard will continue our investments in the Offshore Patrol Cutter acquisition, improved aviation capabilities, integrated command and control systems and a proficient workforce. More specifically, the strategy outlines we will maintain a fleet of 91 National Security, Offshore Patrol and Fast Response cutters. These investments are critical to remaining forward, engaged and ready. We are also looking at future options for polar icebreakers.
We will continue to support the needs of our members and their families and foster an environment that ensures we thrive as a workforce.
The Coast Guard is on call 24/7, both at home and abroad, to counter all threats. We do so as part of a Coast Guard – Navy – Marine Corps team that operates in a complementary and non-redundant manner. The revision to A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower affirms our commitment to cooperation with DOD and our unique role in the maritime domain. Together, we’ll keep the seas safe and maximize service to the Nation.
I highly encourage you to read the Commandant’s post, as well as the strategy in its entirety, as this document describes why we do what we do; we should all take ownership in understanding these issues.