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The United States Coast Guard: Country Protection Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2021


The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a multi-mission organization that focuses on several security issues in America. It was established in the 1970s to support the agenda of the United States Department of the Treasury. Several changes led to the establishment of the current USCG. This paper discusses the unique roles performed by this organization in an attempt to protect the country. Such duties include search and rescue, disrupting human trafficking and drug smuggling operations, and protecting the United States’ natural resources. USCG’s key partners are also identified in this discussion.


The United States Armed Forces is tasked with protecting the country’s territories, infrastructures, citizens, and assets. It has several branches that collaborative to achieve every intended objective. One of them is the United States Coast Guard (USCG). This uniformed service is a multi-mission agency that operates under the country’s Department of Homeland Security. This paper begins by analyzing the history of the USCG and the kind of protection the organization provides to the United States. Several partners that collaborate with this organization to improve efficiency are also identified.


In the mid-1970s, the United States Department of the Treasury launched several vessels to collect revenues. According to military historians, this idea led to the establishment of the Coast Guard (Willoughby, 2016). During the same period, Congress decided to support the construction of revenue cutters. This became the country’s major naval force. Towards the end of the century, these cutters were required to complete additional roles, including rescuing mariners, ferrying mail, combating increasing levels of piracy, and transporting different officials.

In 1915, the United States Life-Saving Service merged with the existing Revenue Cutter Service (RCS) to create the current USCG. Within the next three decades, the management of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation (BMIN) became the duty of the Coast Guard. After the formation of the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1967, the USCG was managed and controlled by the Department of Treasury (USDT). After America was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, the USCG was combined with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The objective behind this idea was to protect the interests of every American citizen (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d). During the war, some units of the USCG can operate under the US Navy, while others may be managed by the Department of Homeland Security.

In order to achieve its objectives and remain successful, the Coast Guard has over forty thousand trained servicemen. It also has over 35,000 auxiliary personnel and 8,000 trained reservists (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d). These professionals can perform a wide range of duties, including operating boats, maintaining electronic equipment, repairing aircraft, and servicing motor vehicles (Willoughby, 2016). The organization’s activities are usually aimed at protecting the country’s assets, natural environment, and citizens. Some of these responsibilities are discussed below.

Initial Training

Professionals working for this agency receive special training from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The institution offers a four-year course focusing on maritime operations. Graduates are required to perform various roles, including servicing and managing vessels (Nixon, 2017). The Direct Commission Officer (DCO) program is considered by professionals from other branches of the U.S. Armed Forces who want to work for this organization. This initiative ensures that officers with advanced skills or specialization are commissioned to the agency. The major competencies offered include self-discipline, marksmanship, academics, military bearings, military skills, swimming, and wellness (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d). The following core values of the army are taken into consideration: devotion to duty, respect, and honor. Graduates are usually expected to complete their roles diligently.

Protecting the United States

The USCG remains a critical American military service. This is the case since its unique mission focuses on maritime law enforcement. It also has jurisdiction in both international and domestic glasses of water (Nixon, 2017). The organization is also known to provide equipped, trained, and competitive forces that can ensure that every homeland security agenda is pursued diligently. This is managed by the Combatant Commander. The USCG is also mandated to combat possible terrorist activities or operations at sea. This objective is achieved through the use of advanced surveillance systems. The USCG also established a unit known as Maritime Operational Threat Response Support. This branch identifies potential dangers that can affect the country’s security. It also maintains sea routes by clearing or breaking the ice (Ostrom & Allen, 2018). This activity is aimed at improving maritime mobility. It also promotes the country’s security since any form of coastal attack is intercepted within a short time (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d). The above initiatives and activities are usually performed in an attempt to protect the United States.

Other Special Roles

Maritime Mobility

America’s international trade operations cannot succeed without the initiatives and roles completed by the USCG. This organization has been on the frontline to eliminate any form of interruption that can affect the movement of people or goods (Smith, 2018). The U.S. Coast Guard uses its resources to manage seaports and waterways in the country. This objective is achieved through the use of superior boats, cutters, and advanced navigation systems. It also marks areas that are navigable. Willoughby (2016) indicates that USCG monitors and dictates the design standards for bridges. This is done to ensure that the transportation needs of the country are met (“Defense operations program,” n.d.). This kind of protection ensures that trade is completed successfully in the country. Icebreaking is also taken seriously in order to promote maritime commerce. This activity also ensures that every national security role is pursued efficiently.

Drug Smuggling

Illegal drug trafficking remains one of the major problems affecting the United States. Many experts and scholars believe that such illicit substances are ferried using boats and sea vessels (Kroll, 2015). This kind of understanding explains why the government has supplied the USCG with adequate resources to tackle this menace. The USCG is currently the main federal agency involved in drug interdiction across the country’s coastlines. In the territorial regions or seas of the United States, the USCG coordinated with other agencies in an attempt to record positive results (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d). The ultimate goal is to disrupt every existing route or market for illicit drugs.

Over the years, the agency has managed to maintain a strong presence in different locations or seaports in order to deny smugglers access. This evidence-based approach has deterred or minimized smuggling activities. It has also collaborated with other nations such as Canada and Mexico in order to achieve its objectives. Nixon (2017) acknowledges that the agency focuses on the best initiatives to support international challenges such as drug trafficking. This strategy has delivered positive results.

Migrant Interdiction

The USCG has a department known as the Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations (AMO). The purpose of this unit is to deter transnational human traffickers and undocumented migrants from entering the United States via different maritime routes (Ostrom & Allen, 2018). The unit also uses advanced systems and technologies to detect such individuals before reaching their destinations. The department has managed to expand the USCG’s involvement in bi-national border activities and security initiatives. Its collaboration with other organizations is something that has continued to deliver positive results.

Search and Rescue

The term “search and rescue” refers to the identification, search for, and provision of support and aid to individuals who are facing danger (Ostrom & Allen, 2018). This kind of operation can be executed to meet the needs of people who are in distress. The USCG has specific units that have competent people for rescuing and evacuating those who are affected by natural or manmade disasters (“Defense operations program,” n.d.). The nature of operation associated with every rescue mission is dictated by issues such as weather, terrain, location, and time of the day (Symonds, 2016). This organization has managed to complete various roles when natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes strike.

According to Ostrom and Allen (2018), the USCG carries out a maritime rescue mission to save passengers and sailors when they are in distress. Survivors and casualties also benefit from the support offered by this organization. Lifeboats are deployed when a missing boat, vessel, or aircraft is located. Air-sea rescue (ASR) missions can also be executed depending on the nature of the distress call. These activities are critical since they protect people’s lives (“Defense operations program,” n.d.). They can also be pursued when ships and vessels are attacked by terrorists or enemies. The command system or structure embraced by the USCG ensures that such objectives and rescue operations are completed effectively.

Protecting Natural Resources

Another unique mission of the USCG is to protect the country’s natural resources (“Serving in the U.S. Coast Guard,” n.d.). The organization achieves this objective by eliminating any possible source of damage to the environment. Some of them include overfishing, recreational activities such as boating, and maritime transportation. In order to achieve this goal, the USCG enforces appropriate laws and regulations to protect selected marine mammals and habitats. The targeted animals are the ones that are endangered by human activities. It also implements powerful guidelines to prevent the discharge of hazardous compounds such as oil (“The unique role of the U.S. Coast Guard,” 2018). The USCG has been keen to collaborate with different organizations, entities, and government agencies to manage dangerous situations that can have negative impacts on the natural environment.

The Arctic marine habitats and environments are protected by ensuring that all vessels are equipped with icebreaking compounds and surveillance systems (Ostrom & Allen, 2018). It has also acquired buoy tenders that are equipped with advanced technologies to respond efficiently to oil spills (Smith, 2018). According to different leaders in this service, any effort put in place to protect the United States’ natural resources promotes the welfare of every citizen.

Key Partners

Depending on the roles being pursued by different units of the USCG, a number of agencies and organizations are identified in an attempt to deliver positive results (Smith, 2018). For instance, the organization collaborates with other agencies such as the U.S. Navy during times of war. The USCG partners with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to share ideas and address the problem of human smuggling (Nixon, 2018). This approach ensures that positive results are recorded. The agency also coordinates with different police departments and coast guards to achieve most of its goals.

The other agencies that collaborate with the USCG under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security include the Intelligence Community, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Interdiction Committee (TIC). The combined efforts of these organizations ensure that every activity or objective is pursued diligently (Ostrom & Allen, 2018). Technologies, ideas, information, and concepts are shared to protect the country’s assets and citizens. Committees such as the Navigation Safety Advisory Council, the Commercial Fishery Safety Advisory Committee, Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee, and the Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee are also crucial partners that support the roles of this organization.


The above discussion has revealed that the USCG is the main agency responsible for the United States’ maritime security and environmental leadership. It also safeguards the major United States’ waterways and ports. Having been in operation since the 1790s, the USCG has evolved to become a leading organization that plays a significant role in protecting the country’s assets and resources. The government should, therefore, continue to fund and support this agency in order to achieve its objectives, including reducing human trafficking, interdicting drug smuggling, and protecting America’s sea territories.


Defense operations program. (n.d.). Web.

Kroll, D. C. (2015). A coast guardsman’s history of the U.S. Coast Guard. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

Nixon, R. (2017). The New York Times. Web.

Nixon, R. (2018). The New York Times. Web.

Ostrom, T. P., & Allen, D. H. (2018). Coast Guard Revenue and Coast Guard Cutters in naval warfare, 1790-1918. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.

(n.d.). Web.

Smith, M. (2018). The New York Times. Web.

Symonds, C. L. (2016). The U.S. Navy: A concise history. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

(2018). Web.

Willoughby, M. F. (2016). The U.S. Coast Guard in World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.

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