The Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Stra- tegy is not changing what the service tradi- tionally has done, but rather it’s placing a
heavier emphasis on the region.
Over the next 10 years, the Coast Guard will assume
a more offensive posture against transnational organized crime (TOC) networks by initiating a host of
activities that will seek to increase its understanding of
where they are, how they operate and how best to target and prosecute them.
TOC networks are a growing threat to maritime
safety, security and efficiency, according to service
leaders, who said globalization and advances in technology will present challenges as free markets and
commerce expand and impact the Maritime Transportation System.
“We really have some challenges set up for us here
in the Western Hemisphere,” ADM Paul F. Zukunft,
Coast Guard commandant, told Seapower.
TOC is defined as criminal activity that is coordinat-
ed across national borders, usually involving networks
of individuals or groups working in multiple countries
in an attempt to execute illegal
business ventures. Methods of
achieving profitable ventures usu-
ally involve corruption, violence
The most common examples of
TOC found in the Western
Hemisphere include the trade of
illegal drugs and weapons, human
smuggling and trafficking, terrorism, and cyber and environmental
The commandant released the
Western Hemisphere Strategy on
The strategy also calls for exploring with other
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) units the feasibility of creating a DHS TOC Network Theater Center
for Excellence to study network threat trends; expand
the use of biometric tools for units in high TOC network threat areas; acquire real-time identification of
organized crime network threats; and evaluate opportunities for deploying land-based Aerial Use-of-Force
assets in the United States and transit zone countries.
The Coast Guard is concentrating its interdiction
efforts in the 7-million-square-mile transit zone that
stretches from Southern California to Peru in the
Pacific Ocean and from Venezuela up through the
Caribbean countries on the Atlantic side.
One of the bigger changes in the strategy was
Zukunft’s decision to increase the number of cutters in
the region from four to six. One of the reasons for this,
he said, was help cover the gap being left by the Navy,
which is pulling nearly all of its assets out of the region
by September as it continues beefing up its presence in
the Asia-Pacific region [see story on page 36].
Guardian of the
Coast Guard has new strategy, brings more resources to top-priority region
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Special Correspondent
The Coast Guard has 11 statutory missions, but in the years
ahead the service will be shifting more of its focus — and more
resources — to the Western Hemisphere.
■ The service is increasing the number of cutters in the region
from four to six.
■ Senior leaders stress that the region poses many challenges
that are evolving each day.
■ The Coast Guard has become the primary guardian of the
Western Hemisphere as the Navy pulls nearly all of its assets out
because of the Defense Department’s increased emphasis on the