the flow of defectors to the United States. Gordon said
the service has seen a spike over the last 16 months,
with a 43 percent increase in maritime defections over
the last month. More than 30,000 Cubans will travel
to the Southwest Texas border this year in an effort to
gain access to the United States, he said.
“Our relations have improved, but they [Cuban
citizens] don’t see the economic horizon and are still
trying to get out while they can,” Gordon said.
Other countries, like Ecuador, have been somewhat
static on working with the service, but the captain
added that just because the service does not have an
agreement with the country does not mean the Coast
Guard is not partnering with it in some way.
Although most of service’s agreements are with
countries in the Caribbean, the Coast Guard continues
to provide assistance worldwide.
In 2015, the Coast Guard expended more than
2,300 cutter days, 1,400 airborne-use-of-force capable helicopters days and 4,000 surveillance aircraft
hours on counter-drug patrols around the world, and
Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs)
deployed for more than 1,100 days aboard U.S., British,
Dutch and Canadian warships. That number was up
significantly from 2014, when the Coast Guard only
conducted 35 LEDET deployments aboard warships.
The Coast Guard also provides international train-
ing and technical assistance to enhance the interdiction
capacities of international partners. The Technical
Assistance Field Team, a joint initiative between the
Coast Guard and the U.S. Southern Command, is a
team of eight Coast Guard engineers and logisticians
whose purpose is to professionalize and improve the
operational readiness of 13 Caribbean maritime forces
through technical assistance visits.
The Coast Guard’s Security Assistance Program offers
both resident training programs and mobile training
teams (MTTs) to partner-nation maritime services to
advance the capability of their naval and coast guard
forces. In 2015, the Coast Guard deployed 55 MTTs to
33 countries, and partner-nation students attended 242
resident courses at Coast Guard training installations.
Washington belt-tightening has forced all government agencies to work more closely with other countries over the last few years. The U.S. Navy has pulled
nearly all its assets out of the Caribbean and relocated
them due to cuts over the last two years.
Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman,
said the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard form
the nation’s first line of defense and provide a presence
around the world together.
“We build on relationships with partners and allies
together, and together we provide our nation’s leaders
a full spectrum of options in times of crisis,” he said.
“We have to be on the same page when it comes to our
strategic approach for supporting our people, building
the right platforms, achieving efficient global capability
and developing critical partnerships.”
He added that deepening operational relation-
ships with foreign partners who share their interests
strengthens our global security network.
“We believe that we are stronger when we operate
together. Building trust in peacetime through training
exercises and goodwill engagements helps retain our
ability to conduct combat operations alongside allies
when needed, where needed,” Hawkins said.
Gordon agreed, saying that with the Navy largely out
of the picture in the Caribbean, the Coast Guard has had
to rely on partnerships to fill some capability gaps.
During a House Transportation and Infrastructure
Coast Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee hearing March 15, Zukunft talked about the importance of these partnerships, saying they help preserve
U.S. interests at home and abroad.
“The Coast Guard employs its broad authorities; an
expansive network of interagency, military and industry relationships; and unique operational capabilities
and international partnerships to maximum strategic
effect,” he said.
Zukunft went on discuss the multimission, maritime service responsibility the service has, noting that
it offers a unique capability within the Department of
Homeland Security that has to be preserved. n
Crew members from the Portsmouth, Va.-based Coast
Guard Cutter Northland prepare an at-sea transfer Jan.
8 of 7,000 kilos of cocaine and 522 kilos of methamphetamine seized in the Eastern Pacific throughout its 56-day
patrol in December and January. The Coast Guard and
its domestic and international partners routinely deploy to
known drug transit zones in the Eastern Pacific to interdict
shipments of contraband in support of Operation Martillo.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MAY 2016