The United States Coast Guard is a unique multimission, maritime agency categorized as one of five branches of the U.S. armed forces. Its major role is to protect the nation’s ports and waterways or any maritime region, including international waters, as required or requested to support national security. The Coast Guard specifically looks to protect the public, the environment, and governmental interests by maintaining safe waterways.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is tasked with enforcement of maritime law, mariner assistance including search and rescue, and national security of all major waterways, particularly coasts and ports; and interstate bodies of such as lakes, streams, and rivers within the United States; and sometimes in international waters.
The Coast Guard’s history can be traced back to August 4, 1790, when the first Congress, under the encouragement of Secretary of the Treasury
The Coast Guard has always been the smallest of the five U.S. military branches. In 2009, it had just over 40,000 active-duty members, roughly 8,000 reservists, and close to 37,000 civilian and auxiliary employees. However, the Coast Guard is unique because of its vast mission. For example, in times of peace, the Coast Guard can operate as part of the U.S.
The Coast Guard provides unique services to the nation because of its distinctive blend of military, civilian law-enforcement, and humanitarian capabilities. The Coast Guard has five specific roles as they pertain to the American public: search and rescue (SAR) pertaining to recreational boating, commercial fishing, and transportation; homeland security related directly to protection of waterways, ports, and coastlines from enemy combatants; environmental protection of the nation’s coasts, waterways, sea habitats, and wildlife; maritime mobility, which is associated with ensuring safe passage of cargo for economical purposes; and maritime law enforcement and security, which focuses on enforcement of water-related federal laws dealing with the
Although the Coast Guard carries out all the aforementioned roles on a daily basis, the role of law enforcement and security has been deemed one of its most vital responsibilities. Aside from saving lives at sea on a daily basis, the Coast Guard has played a vital role since the
Beard, Tom. Coast Guard. Seattle: Foundation for Coast Guard History, 2004. Provides the definitive story of the Coast Guard. Packed with unique historical facts and firsthand accounts of former “Coasties,” this book is an excellent reference for those interested in learning more about the Coast Guard as both a military branch and an agency that serves the general public in various capacities. Bonner, Kit, and Carolyn Bonner. Always Ready: Today’s U.S. Coast Guard. St. Paul, Minn.: MBI, 2004. A concise look at the evolving mission and goals of the Coast Guard. In particular, specific detail is offered about the role the Coast Guard has carried out for the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Above all, the book is appropriate as a reference for understanding the varying missions of the Coast Guard. Krietemeyer, George E. The Coast Guardsman’s Manual. 9th ed. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2008. This book is issued to new recruits as they enter boot camp for the Coast Guard. Offers a readable history of the Coast Guard, highlighting everything from its military roles to enforcement of maritime law and search and rescue missions. Ostrom, Thomas P. The United States Coast: 1790 to the Present. Rev. ed. Oakland, Oreg.: Red Anvil Press, 2006. Detailed historical overview of the Coast Guard told from the viewpoint of a former member. Provides insight into the significance of the Coast Guard and its various roles in protecting U.S. waterways. Phillips, Donald T., and James M. Loy. Character in Action: The U.S. Coast Guard on Leadership. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2003. Offers a detailed look into how the Coast Guard has set a standard for creating young leaders. Rasmussen, R. Kent. “Coast Guard, U.S.” In Magill’s Guide to Military History, edited by John Powell. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2001. Concise history of the Coast Guard by a former Guardsman that pays special attention to the service’s changing roles and its participation in national military conflicts.
Border Patrol, U.S.
Haitian boat people
Homeland Security, Department of
9/11 and U.S. immigration policy
Patriot Act of 2001
Transportation of immigrants