The United States’ peer naval competitors are on the rise, and our Navy is woefully deficient in the small surface combatants that provide global presence during peacetime and serve as utility players during times of conflict. Until the early 1990s, the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest cutters could be expected to fill a portion of the small surface combatant gap. However, decisions made since the end of the Cold War have left the service without cutters to meet today’s minimum threshold of combat value. Restoring credible warfighting capability to the major cutter fleet is an efficient way to address the small surface combatant shortfall.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy should move jointly and decisively to arm, train and equip the major cutter fleet so that it can perform a useful set of defense and expeditionary missions. The decision to do so is not only a reasonable response to threats posed by increasingly capable, bold and bellicose competitors, but also a recognition of the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard’s large cutters will be put in harm’s way during a general—or major—regional war regardless of the service’s ability to prepare them in advance. Moving forward first requires a reexamination of the major cutter fleet’s historical combat role and the decisions that saw that role scaled back as the Cold War ended.
Read the full article at The National Interest.
More from CNAS
CommentaryAmerica never committed to training Afghan forces. I know because I tried.
I first met Maj. Sboor in 2009 as he waited to take over his own Afghan army battalion. We were working together as operations officers of partnered Afghan and U.S. infantry u...
By Dr. Jason Dempsey
VideoCNAS: Bold Ideas for National Security
This year, CNAS experts brought bold ideas and bipartisan cooperation to the national security conversation. In 2020, the CNAS team will continue tackling the biggest security...
By Susanna V. Blume, Kara Frederick, Kayla M. Williams, Loren DeJonge Schulman, Richard Fontaine, Kristine Lee, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Ely Ratner, Paul Scharre, Elizabeth Rosenberg & Carrie Cordero
CommentaryThe ACFT and the Problems with the Military's Cult of Physical Fitness
A new hurdle for U.S. Army recruitment and retention is coming in the form of the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), scheduled to become the Army's physical test by October 2020...
By Emma Moore
Increasing Diversity in the Military: Recruiting and Retaining Talented Women
I. Boots-on-the-Ground Assessment Chairwoman Speier, Ranking Member Kelly, distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss a topic I believe i...
By Kayla M. Williams