We know there are viable threats that can happen on U.S. soil, but what about those with a maritime nexus? The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team West out of San Diego trains in tactical operations year round maintaining high levels of marksmanship, fast-roping and small boat maneuvering. Recently they traveled to the small town of Cordova, Alaska, to help the city and state of Alaska stay ready while also practicing their own missions in the unique environment that Alaska offers.
Thirty-two participants representing 12 different local, state, and federal agencies including active duty and Reserve Coast Guard members trained together at Training Center Petaluma in late October to hands-on field training and scenario-based practical exercises on active shooter incidents. Active shooter situations are all too common in American society today and this training is meant to help those first responders stay prepared and ready.
In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard demonstrated the importance of a naval force experienced in shallow-water operations, maritime interdiction operations, port security and aids to navigation work. The port security units performed their port security duties efficiently in spite of their units being divided between three separate port facilities and two oil terminals. Patrol boats operated for countless hours without maintenance in waters too shallow for Navy assets and served as the Coalition fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort and force protection duties. OIF was just one of the many combat operations fought by the Coast Guard since 1790 and its heroes are among the many members of the long blue line.
In 1790, Alexander Hamilton established a small fleet of coastal law enforcement vessels to patrol off East Coast seaports. Over the next 228 years, the service experienced rapid growth in its geographic area of responsibility, mandated missions, and organization through mergers with other maritime services, reorganizations, and transfers from one federal agency to another. These frequent changes demanded remarkable flexibility and resourcefulness of the Coast Guard. The service has lived-up to its motto Semper Paratus by adapting and evolving to meet the nation’s changing needs emerging as a global responder known and respected at home and abroad.
The Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, homeported in Seattle, and its 180 crew members embark every year on their Alaskan patrol from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the nation’s top fishing port. The Mellon and its crew divide their patrols between the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Mexico and Guatemala. In the Eastern Pacific, offshore South America, the crew interdicts drug smugglers in the Joint Interagency Task Force – South area of responsibility.
In the Bering Sea, the Mellon crew keeps a lookout for mariners in distress and enforces laws and regulations related to the preservation of U.S. fisheries stocks.
Since 1982, LEDETs have evolved from a counterdrug unit under local Coast Guard command, to one of the service’s modern Deployable Specialized Forces with a global area of responsibility. Over the course of their history, the LEDETs’ role has expanded to carry out a variety of maritime interdiction missions, including counter-piracy, military combat operations, alien migration interdiction, military force protection, counter terrorism, homeland security, and humanitarian response. The LEDETs and their law enforcement mission form one more link in the long blue line.
With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. A variety of new units, like the MSSTs and MSRTs, emerged as part of the Coast Guard’s greatest organizational transformation since World War II.
For the past four years, U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet A.J. Read has defended the Bears on the soccer team as a center back, but this summer he takes defense to a new level as he joins Coast Guard Cyber Command in Washington, D.C. The Academy soccer star had a bumpy road trying to find his calling within the Coast Guard – he eventually found his passion within the electrical engineering major leading him to the Coast Guard Academy Cyber Team.
Coast Guard Law Enforcement personnel need an unambiguous tool to better attract boaters’ attention and communicate with them. The Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program is currently testing a possible solution: a Hailing Acoustic Laser Light Tactical System appropriately called CG-HALLTS. Instead of launching a small boat or dispatching a helicopter to determine a boater’s intent, the Coast Guard may be able to de-escalate a high-alert scenario with CG-HALLTS.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft testified on the military branch’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. He highlighted the service’s efforts to combat dangerous transnational organized crime networks and the funding and support of the Coast Guard’s future major cutter fleet to include Offshore Patrol Cutters, Fast Response Cutters, National Security Cutters and the polar icebreaker program.