The Coast Guard, as many Pacific Islanders already know, is an organization that has worldwide missions that include performing substantial work throughout our ancient Mariana Islands and beyond. The Coast Guard is growing but its overall resource base lags behind the increasing demand for this organization to successfully carry out all its assigned tasks. The Coast Guard, for those unaware, is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense and the housing of this organization within Homeland Security has tremendous financial ramifications from a public purse perspective.
What the Coast Guard does that relates to Chamorro Pacific Islanders and Micronesians
The Coast Guard does some great work to help mitigate illegal fishing. Illegal fishing, undertaken by several countries to include China, have massive amounts of vessels that are overfishing our oceans.
The Chinese remain a major problem throughout our Deep Blue continent because they operate close to 20,000 vessels that can routinely congregate and disburse in ways that fully exploit the exclusive economic zones of many Pacific Island nations. Pacific Islanders are thus incentivized to care about aggregate dollar losses to our Deep Blue continent economies, estimated to be upwards of $40 billion per year. The Chinese do what they do because they have massive domestic demand for fish.
But note that the Coast Guard has “rider” agreements in place with a variety of Pacific Island nations, which allow Pacific Island nation officials the chance to board U.S. Coast Guard ships to help patrol each island nation’s exclusive economic zone. These partnerships have been mutually effective and beneficial so far and span across both the Northern and Southern Pacific Ocean areas.
We may have opportunities to help redefine what it means to partner with the U.S. government, via Coast Guard cooperation
As Chamorro Pacific Islanders there are many spaces where we might be able to work with the Coast Guard in ways that have never been done before. There may be areas for the Coast Guard to train in tandem with segments of our Chamorro Pacific Islander population to deal with illegal fishing more effectively. There may be opportunities with the Coast Guard to also become involved with maritime security and law enforcement. There may be opportunities to further support Coast Guard vessels that come in the form of contracting or subcontracting arrangements.
Some additional possible ways to partner with the Coast Guard
The Coast Guard’s global mission is ambitious, but the organization doesn’t have all the money or the proper manpower to fully execute all its missions. This situation lends itself to perhaps giving our Chamorro people the incentive to look for new opportunities to come up with some creative ways to partner with the Coast Guard because of our relative proximity to East Asia.
Why? Because the Coast Guard needs ways to improve its logistical support apparatus close to Asia and because it needs to find methods to further improve its low-end forward presence throughout the Marianas, the Western Pacific, and Micronesia.
Our people might be able to partner with the Coast Guard to come up with approaches to more effectively provide both logistical and auxiliary support for the large ships used to protect our Mariana Islands chain and vast areas of the Pacific Ocean. Unlike the Navy, which has substantial supply and logistical tails in place, the Coast Guard’s medium- and large-sized vessels don’t necessarily have the extensive support apparatus required to keep these ships out at sea for periods that may be unusually extended or long.
Perhaps the NMI or the government of Guam could look into how we can work with the Coast Guard to further improve not only logistics, but minor or major recurring and nonrecurring ship repairs, and troubleshoot or secure both new and older legacy technology components and hardware to keep key Coast Guard capital ships running.
On shore, there may be ways to further assist the Coast Guard by entering into formalized arrangements that enable the Coast Guard to better and more effectively manage childcare requirements for kids of active-duty personnel. The Coast Guard is in the business of saving lives, saving boaters, helping to stop illegal fishing, and stem the flows of illegal and very dangerous drugs. These kinds of activities are most needed especially throughout our ancient Mariana Islands chain home.
Let’s recall that China has hundreds of paramilitary-type ships that are well practiced and very good at exercising coercive tactics and maneuvers to dissuade other nations’ ships from engaging in persistent freedom-of-navigation operations.
The Coast Guard may find that it is better served over the long term by taking a series of calculated risks to further develop greater trust and new cooperative partnerships with our Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands because the Coast Guard needs to grow its overall logistical resource base, further develop its ability to respond to a variety contingencies throughout our Deep Blue Ocean continent, and thus sustain and more effectively carry out its stated strategic intent as an American global maritime organization.