Navies versus Coast Guards: Defining the Roles of African Maritime Security Forces (Africa Security Brief, Number 2, December 2009)
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC AFRICA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES
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Maritime security challenges in Africa are growing rapidly and represent an increasingly central component of the threat matrix facing the continent. African states struggle to meet these threats because their maritime security structures are misaligned with the challenges posed. They have navy bureaucratic affiliations and training programs but have a predominance of coast guard missions, operate in coast guard zones, and require coast guard partnerships. Accordingly, they are not efficiently organized and trained to meet their challenges. They are also hampered by their dependence upon the poorly matched foreign equipment they purchase or are given. Inefficiency and small budgets reinforce each other, allowing maritime security challenges to remain substantially unchecked. Billions of dollars of fish are stolen every year from a continent facing some of the worlds highest levels of malnutrition. International drug syndicates are gaining a foothold among what are already some of the worlds most fragile states. Redressing this misalignment will require valuing the coast guard capacity demanded by these threats and constructing the array of intragovernmental partnerships needed to be effective in combating these threats. Navies and coast guards play fundamentally different, though complementary, roles. Navies are international operators primarily concerned with national defense. Coast guards, on the other hand, function more as maritime police, preventing crime and promoting public safety. This paper analyzes five dimensions that differentiate the two forces Mission Sets and Locations, Assets, Institutional Affiliation, Training, and Partnerships. While not universally applicable, they provide a useful framework for assessing the roles and contributions of African maritime security forces.
- Sociology and Law
- Military Forces and Organizations