LCS and the Future of CNT Operations in 4th Fleet
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI NEWPORT United States
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The renewed interest in counter narcoterrorism CNT in the 4th Fleet AOR highlights the Coast Guards problem with aging cutters and helicopters and underscores the Navys lack of frigates. Deficits in both cutter and helicopter acquisitions in the Coast Guard have a direct and negative impact on the Coast Guards presence in 4th Fleet. While the Coast Guard awaits new Medium Endurance Cutters and the Navy a new frigate, the DoN is sending the fledgling LCS to support CNT operations. Despite its many problems, the LCS is the ideal platform to reinforce the Coast Guards presence and bolster the CNT mission. The LCS is fast, can be outfitted with an ASW mission module, and can carry Coast Guard law enforcement detachments LEDETs and Navy H-60 helicopter detachments. The LCS and its state-of-the-art ASW mission module could help combat the rising narco submarine and low-profile vessel LPV problem. Furthermore, while the Coast Guard faces increasing demand on their aging helicopter fleet, introducing either variant of the Navy H-60 to the CNT mission would relieve the burden. However, only the MH-60R helicopter has comprehensive ISR capabilities and ASW acoustic processing capabilities, making it the preferable asset to interdict surface vessels and LPVs. As narcoterrorists tactics evolve, so must the NavyCoast Guard team. The best way to support the Coast Guard and execute the CNT mission in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific is with ASW-equipped LCSs and MH-60R helicopters.
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