The U.S. Coast Guard must be in lock-step with our Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and other interagency and international partners to be successful in “combating networks” – the first priority of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy. These partnerships were at the forefront as The Interdiction Committee engaged with stakeholders in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia and Honduras last week.
Federal agencies and international partners are working tirelessly in the United States and abroad to combat Transnational Organized Crime networks. These efforts have been instrumental in eradicating production facilities and controlling the purchase of precursor chemicals used to make drugs; interrupting mobility corridors when illegal narcotics are being moved to stockpile locations; and integrating efforts to disrupt drug shipments and the distribution chain to impact the network itself.
Coast Guard Sector New York shares a unique history with the New York City Marathon in that the race pre-stages its runners at Fort Wadsworth, which is co-located with the Sector in Staten Island. For 18 years, the Coast Guard has been behind the scenes, working to produce a functioning event and ensuring that every aspect of the start of the race runs smoothly for the athletes, spectators, and volunteers.
“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”
“All in all, it was just a great experience and most of all a learning experience and understanding how important it is for unit cohesion, for discipline, for the sense of integrity. All of those things were pounded home and I think they stuck with me really all of my career.”
This morning Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft signed the Coast Guard Western Hemisphere Strategy. It addresses transnational threats and maritime challenges that threaten the security of our Nation, markets and oceans over the next 10 years. The Coast Guard is globally deployed, but our primary operating area remains in the Western Hemisphere. As we engage future challenges we must think strategically to best position our resources to leverage our unique authorities, capabilities and partnerships to achieve national objectives across the range of Coast Guard missions.
With eight of the top 10 most violent nations residing in the Western Hemisphere and transnational organized crime networks acting as non-state actors, relationships between America’s military services and law enforcement agencies with their counterparts throughout the region are more important than ever. And, every Coast Guard port call is an opportunity to build and nurture those critical partnerships.
Sometimes a person gets a weird feeling in the pit of their stomach because there is more to a situation than meets the eye. This feeling is commonly referred to as a person’s “sixth sense.” Coast Guard boarding officers are trained to follow that “sixth sense” while they’re conducting counter narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin. That’s exactly what happened to Petty Officer Matthew Baasch and a boarding team from the Cutter Bertholf when they climbed aboard the fishing vessel Goliat I off the coast of Colombia on June 28.
North Pacific nations are gathering this week to discuss the North Pacific Ocean, the body of water they all border that encompasses 21 percent of the world’s ocean area. The safety and economic security of these nations depends considerably upon the secure use of the ocean; for the large expanse of the North Pacific, this means strong relationships between nations with overlapping sovereignty, economic, security, emergency response and law enforcement concerns in the region. These relationships are bolstered each year through the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum.
Tuesdays week in the life of the Coast Guard 2014 features the work of Aids to Navagation team members, we honor a fallen shipmate in Long Beach, California, inventory of a new boat in Florida, ID card making in Honolulu and good ol’ hull maintenance on the Cutter Appleby