Naval operations supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom began with the U.S. Navy in the summer of 2002. The Navy drew on its plans for combat operations in Iraq, and in September 2002, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command requested U.S. Coast Guard support for combat operations.
Tag: Operation Iraqi Freedom
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.
The 2001 terrorist attacks reshaped the Coast Guard, including new homeland security units, alterations in existing Coast Guard units and the transition to a new federal agency. The service’s response demonstrated its flexibility and relevance in the Coast Guard’s greatest transformation since World War II.
Units and personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard and its predecessor services have served with distinction in every major American conflict and 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) proved no exception to this rule. In OIF, the Coast Guard excelled in its specialties of port security, coastal and environmental security, and maritime interdiction operations. At the height of combat operations, 1,250 Coast Guard personnel served in OIF. Coast Guard vessels and land-based personnel brought many vital capabilities to the theater of operations, including aids-to-navigation.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Coast Guard was instrumental in providing port security and demonstrated the Coast Guard units could serve in areas lacking any Coast Guard infrastructure. The units who served in these areas added an important chapter to the history of the service and lived up to the Coast Guard’s motto of Semper Paratus.
As in previous Coast Guard combat missions, Coast Guard patrol boats and personnel exceeded all expectations as they served as the fleet’s workhorses in boarding, escort duty, force protection and maritime interdiction during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Coast Guard’s presence in the theater of operations played an important role in the long blue line and will maintain a part in future naval operations where hostilities erupt in the world’s littoral regions.
Today, the Coast Guard is the nation’s oldest continuously serving sea-going service and conducts 11 different missions. One of those missions is Defense Readiness. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia is at the forefront of the Defense Readiness mission. Today, PATFORSWA’s mission is to train, organize, equip, support and deploy mission-ready Coast Guard Forces in support of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and national security objectives.
Proudly representing the Coast Guard as part of The Long Blue Line, Cmdr. Holly Harrison became the first female to command a Coast Guard vessel in a combat zone and subsequently became the first female to receive the bronze star medal.
On April 25, 2004, while serving as part of Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia aboard USS Firebolt, Petty Officer 3rd Class Bruckenthal, a damage controlman, and two U. S. Navy sailors were killed in the line of duty while conducting maritime intercept operations in the North Arabian Gulf.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp visited Bahrain last week, the second leg of a series of official visits to meet with partner organizations and Coast Guardsmen stationed or deployed overseas.