The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all have things they'd like to work on in 2018, but what about the often-forgotten Coast Guard? This agency has a wide range of responsibilities and, with so much on their plate, there's a lot of room for improvement in 2018. Let's take a look.
6. Acquire more airframes
The Coast Guard has a total of 201 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft across the entire service. Let's put this into perspective: That's only one more airframe than the Marine Corps has of F/A-18A/C/D Hornets, according to FlightGlobal.com. Despite these numbers, they have to secure a massive 12,380 miles of coastline. This ought to change as soon as possible.
This MH-60T Jayhawk is being used to train an Air Force military working dog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Adam R. Shanks)
5. Add more cutters
The Coast Guard website lists a total of five national security cutters, four high-endurance cutters, and 28 medium-endurance cutters on hand. The Coast Guard plans to replace the remaining four Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters with four Bertholf-class national security cutters, but the Coast Guard once had 12 Hamilton-class cutters. Furthermore, the service plans to replace 28 medium-endurance cutters with 25 Heritage-class vessels. The Coast Guard needs to resolve to replace its old cutters on a one-for-one basis at a minimum.
A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft prepares to drop supplies aboard the national security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) in the Arctic Ocean Sept. 14, 2012, during a patrol in support of Arctic Shield 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class Timothy Tamargo)
4. Take some ships off the Navy's hands
The Coast Guard adopted a number of Navy vessels after World War II. Today, the Navy's Freedom- and Independence-class littoral combat ships could be huge assets for the Coast Guard. In fact, in 2010, USS Freedom (LCS 1) scored four drug busts in a single, six-and-a-half week deployment.
USS Coronado (LCS 4) during sea trials. (Photo from U.S. Navy)
3. Bring back some anti-drug capability
Did you know the Coast Guard once had some E-2 Hawkeyes? Yep, those eyes in the sky helped keep drugs out of the United States until the post-Cold War budget cuts ended that program. The Coast Guard also recently gave up the HU-25 Guardian and the MH-68 Stingray.
A Coast Guard MH-68 Sting Ray helicopter crew prepares to take off for a patrol of the Savannah River to provide security during the G8 Summit while Air Force One sits in the background. (USCG photo by PA3 Ryan Doss)
2. Build a Coast Guard Special Operations Command
Other services have contributed assets to Special Operations Command, but the Coast Guard is conspicuous by its absence. The Coast Guard's Maritime Security Response Team is an elite unit that could complement Delta Force and SEAL Team Six, while their Maritime Safety and Security Teams handle a lot of counter-terrorism ops.
A member of the Coast Guard's Maritime Security Response Team boards a vessel. (Photo from USCG)
1. Get more icebreakers
The Coast Guard is in a world of hurt when it comes to icebreakers. While the Coast Guard website says they have four icebreakers (three polar, one on the Great Lakes), one of the polar icebreakers is out of commission with engine problems. Meanwhile, Russia is pushing hard to control the Arctic. Right now, the Coast Guard needs more icebreakers, even if it means restarting the Polar-class production line.
The Coast Guard icebreakers USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 10) and USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 11) during a resupply mission to McMurdo Research Station. (USCG photo)
What do you think the Coast Guard should resolve to do in 2018?