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Coast Guard SOF

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This paper examines the Coast Guards historic participation in special operations and posits a requirement for the Coast Guard to designate a special operations force today -- Coast Guard SOF. Lieutenant Commander Bowen advances a timely argument for the formation of Coast Guard SOF units, at a time when USSOCOM is under pressure to expand SOF capabilities. Bowen argues that the Coast Guard has considerable experience fighting terrorists, insurgents, and criminal networks. These are the same threats that USSOCOM seeks to thwart by means of its global campaign plan to synchronize the counterterrorism efforts of the Department of Defense. He points out that Title 46 of the U.S. Code established the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams to respond to terrorist activity. These teams are a rapid response force capable of deployment in response to various threats against seaports and waterways, and they provide protection for strategic shipping, high-interest vessels, and critical infrastructure. Plus, Coast Guard teams are active on the high seas as well. With its maritime assets fully committed, augmentation by properly trained and assimilated Coast Guard SOF could advance USSOCOM capabilities in difficult mission areas. Bowen suggests that forces of a CG SOF component could fill the gap he finds in maritime control and interdiction. While we have a few highly qualified teams that can do this type of work, many more are needed, and they can be made available from the Coast Guard. In this paper he writes that maritime security response requires prolific, robust, all-weather, day-night, opposed boarding capabilities with highly discriminate use of force to respond immediately to real-time, all-source intelligence. Especially useful could be the Coast Guard experience and involvement in Foreign Internal Defense FID and the potential that Coast Guard SOF hold for augmenting USSOCOMs mission requirement in maritime environments around the globe.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Civil Defense
  • Unconventional Warfare

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