The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat - We Are The Mighty
Intel

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat

By 2030, the United States Marine Corps might look a little different from the Marine Corps of today. According to a 180-page document released by Breaking Defense, there’s an aggressive strategy in place to redesign the sea service in less than 10 years. 

Called the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” the Corps is going to be overhauled to focus on the challenges posed by an emerging China and a newly-aggressive Russia. 

The Marine Corps newest iteration, according to the unreleased manual, is going to create small units to focus on individual small unit capabilities, specifically air defense, anti-ship warfare, fighting for control of small, temporary bases all in an “island-hopping” campaign in the Pacific.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
A fire team of Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, 1st Marine Logistics Group, rush toward simulated aggressors during the certification exercise of the Basic Combat Skills Course aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devan K. Gowans/Released)

If that sounds familiar, that was the strategy used by the United States Marine Corps and Navy during World War II in the Pacific, meant to check the expansion of Imperial Japan. That plan was itself based on Operational Plan 712: Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, one of the Marine Corps’ foundational doctrines. 

Instead of massive invasions like the ones seen on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, however, the Marines will be called in to capture or construct small bases to launch missiles or use as resupply stations as Marines and Naval forces operate throughout the Pacific Theater. 

“The scale of the problem today cannot be met by merely refining current methods and capabilities,” the manual reads.

The Marine Corps also isn’t limited to the technology of days past, either. The Corps will use precision-guided missiles, unmanned aerial and seaborne vehicles, and any other innovations that would make movement between islands and contesting islands more practical and decisive. 

One of the first signs of developing this newly-oriented, more agile Marine Corps will come in the 2022 defense budget requests from the Marine Corps. The document predicts the Corps will want a hundred Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessels available for use, along with Light Amphibious Warships in Littoral Maneuver Squadrons. 

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
Candidates assigned to Lima Company, Officer Candidate School, navigate through the combat course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe/Released)

It will also list Navy-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) batteries, hundreds of anti-ship Naval Strike Missiles with a 115-mile range built on the chassis of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. 

This document is said to outline Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s very fast timeline to reconstruct the Marine Corps and its combat roles. Combat teams will be roughly battalion-sized, according to Breaking Defense, and will see at least three Marine Littoral Regiments stood up in the Pacific within the coming years. Each will be responsible for multiple versions of these small bases. 

The bases will be “conducting sustained operations to enable fleet operations via sea denial” and be a supply and refueling point for units “conducting major combat operations,” the article says. 

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Colin Anderson, rifleman, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, practice urban combat during Weapons and Tactics Instructors (WTI) course 2-19  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ashlee Conover)

Marines operating at these “ad hoc” bases will be protected from advanced aircraft and advanced ballistic weapons by Marine air wings, communications, and ground-based air defenses.

One of the reasons the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations” is being taken so seriously is that unlike many other so-called “concept papers” from military branch leaders, this document is painstakingly detailed over 200 pages, covering everything from joint force interoperability to command and control oversight, as well as the size and roles of individual Marine Corps units.

Read more about the newer, smaller, and more agile Marine Corps from the original at Breaking Defense.

Intel

This video shows the awesomeness of the US Navy’s submarine force

In case you missed it, the U.S. Navy published a moto video about its submarine force called “The Silent Service.” It gives remarkable details — which are likely inaccurate — about the number of troops, types of submarines, and weapons on board.


The promotional video opens with an inspiring quote by Admiral Nimitz:

It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of peril.

It dives into the capabilities. (See what we did there?)

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
YouTube: US Navy

The types of missions . . .

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
YouTube: US Navy

The types of missiles . . .

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
YouTube: US Navy

And, of course, no submarine video is complete without the money surfacing shot . . .

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
YouTube: Navy

Now watch the full video:

Intel

This guy made a drone that can fire a handgun, and it’s kinda nuts

Civilian drones have been causing problems since the airborne tech has been made available to the public, with several reports of drones interfering with commercial flights and firefighting missions.


Still, no one was crazy enough to attach a handgun to one of these mini-copters — until now.

The following YouTube footage depicts a home-made drone equipped with a semiautomatic pistol, firing a shot every few seconds while remaining stable.

The drone was reportedly created by Connecticut teenager Austin Haughwout, and is completely illegal under FAA regulations.

Watch:

h/t Daily Mail

NOW:These new mini-drones could revolutionize ground warfare

OR: There’s going to be a ‘Top Gun 2′ — with drones

Intel

These Marines show how annoying new guys are

New guys are easy to spot. Like “The Most Interesting Man In The World,” they tend to stick out, except not in a way that’s cool or suave.


Also read: This hilarious video shows the ‘hype vs. reality’ of Marine life

Case in point comes from this Terminal Boots video of “The World’s Most Motivated Boot.” Deacon, John and Joseph nail how a Marine fresh to the fleet looks, acts and talks.

As the video description reads: “Here is an example of a Marine in the fleet prior to the disgruntlement phase of enlistment. Watch closely, in just six months time, he will shed his cocoon, get a DUI and blossom into a beautiful sh-tbag.”

Watch:

NOW: Here’s a hilarious look at what life is like for Marines on a Navy ship

OR: Here’s the way-funnier version of what the Marine PFT is really like

Articles

The Vice President Just Pulled A ‘Jody’ Move At The Defense Secretary’s Swearing-In

At ease, sir!


Vice President Joe Biden appeared to be getting a little too chummy with Stephanie Carter, the wife of Ashton Carter, at the new Secretary of Defense’s swearing-in ceremony today. Biden rubbed her shoulders and whispered in her ear as her husband the SecDef gave remarks following the oath of office.

Officials later tried to explain that Biden was just trying to comfort Mrs. Carter because she was a bit shaken after falling on the ice on her way into the ceremony.

WATM’s counsel to the man who’s one heartbeat away from the presidency is this: Support the troops the right way. Don’t be that guy, Jody. It doesn’t help morale.

NOW: Trained Warriors Turned Comedy Killers 

OR: The 18 Military Facebook Pages You Should Be Following 

Intel

These are the veteran stars of the GI Film Festival

The GI Film Festival is an annual event that introduces new and established filmmakers that honor the stories of the American Armed Forces.


“From the very beginning, it has been about fostering a positive image for men and women in uniform,” said Brandon Millet, co-founder and director of the GI Film Festival. “We’ve expanded that image to also connecting service members to society given that only one percent serve. We want people to come to the event and be highly entertained and walk away with a greater sense of appreciation for what are men and women in uniform do for us on a daily basis and if we accomplish those two missions we’re happy.”

The GI Film Festival is open to filmmakers of every level, from first-timers to veteran directors and producers. Here’s a short video featuring some of the directors, actors, and producers at the GI Film Festival this year:

NOW: The 18 funniest moments from ‘Generation Kill’

OR: Brad Pitt is starring as Gen. Stanley McChrystal in ‘War Machine’

 

Articles

Why can’t America build any new F-22 Raptors?

The U.S Air Force has two air superiority fighters in their stable in the F-22 Raptor and F-15 Eagle, but when looking to bolster the fleet with purchases of a new (old) jet for the job, it was the Eagle, not the famed Raptor, to get a second lease on life. That really begs the question: if America can buy new F-15s, a design that’s nearly 50 years old, why isn’t it looking to build new F-22s instead?

Related: WHY IS AMERICA BUYING THE F-15EX INSTEAD OF MORE F-35S?

By most accounting, the F-22 Raptor remains the most capable air superiority fighter on the planet, with its competition in China’s J-20B beginning to shape up and Russia’s Su-57 still lagging a bit behind. The F-22 really is still at the top of its game… but that doesn’t mean building more actually makes good sense.

The F-22 and F-35 are fighters with two very different jobs

While the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is widely seen as the most technologically advanced fighter in the sky, it was designed as a sort of continuation of the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s multi-purpose architecture, with an emphasis placed on conducting air-to-ground operations. The older F-22 Raptor was intended to serve as a replacement instead for the legendary F-15 Eagle, as the nation’s top-of-the-line dogfighter.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
F-22 Raptors fly in formation with an F-15 Eagle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker)

Related: Sea Raptor: The Navy’s sweep-wing F-22 that wasn’t to be

While both the F-22 and F-35 are 5th generation jets that leverage stealth to enable mission accomplishment and both are able to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations, they each specialize in a different aspect of air combat and were intended to serve in very different roles. Unlike the F-22, the U.S. continues to receive new F-35s, though comments made by senior defense officials over the past year have placed the Joint Strike Fighter’s future into some question. America will undoubtedly be flying F-35s for decades to come, but it’s beginning to seem less and less likely that the F-35 will replace the F-16 as the Air Force’s workhorse platform.

The F-22 was canceled because America didn’t need a stealth air superiority fighter for the War on Terror

The Air Force originally intended to purchase 750 F-22s to develop a robust fleet of stealth interceptors for the 21st Century. But as the United States found itself further entrenched in counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations against technologically inferior opponents, the need for advanced dogfighters became far less pressing. With ongoing combat operations in multiple theaters to fund, the F-22 program was shut down in December of 2011 with just 186 fighters delivered. Today, nearly a decade later, the F-22 exists in precious few numbers, despite its fearsome reputation.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Sam Eckholm)

Related: WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN WHEN WE SAY ‘5TH GENERATION’ FIGHTER?

Now, the United States faces concerns about its dwindling fleet of F-22 Raptors that were once intended to replace the F-15 outright. Only around 130 of those 186 delivered F-22s were ever operational, and today the number of combat-ready F-22s is likely in the double digits. With no new Raptors to replenish the fleet as older jets age out, each hour an F-22 flies anywhere in the world is now one hour closer to the world’s best dogfighter’s retirement.

The future of the Air Force, as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown has plainly stated, doesn’t include the mighty Raptor. But America needs an air superiority fighter that can stand and swing with the best in the world, and as capable as the F-15EX Eagle II may be, it lacks the stealth it would need to survive an open war with a nation like China or Russia. With the NGAD program still years away from producing an operational fighter, America’s air superiority mission now runs the risk of not having the jets it needs for a high-end fight if one were to break out–as unlikely as that may be.

The production facilities and supply chain for the F-22 were cannibalized for the F-35

As simple as just building new F-22s may sound, the truth is, re-starting the F-22 production line would likely cost the same or potentially even more than simply developing an entirely new and potentially better fighter. Lockheed Martin cannibalized a great deal of the F-22’s production infrastructure to support the ongoing production of the F-35, meaning it wouldn’t be as simple as just re-opening the plants that had previously built Raptors.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
Lockheed Martin

Related: COULD THE YF-23 HAVE BEEN BETTER THAN THE F-22?

In fact, Lockheed Martin would have to approach building new F-22s as though it was an entirely new enterprise, which is precisely why the United States didn’t look into purchasing new F-22s rather than the controversial new (old) F-15EX.

Boeing’s new F-15s are considered fourth-generation fighters that are sorely lacking in stealth when compared to advanced fighters like the F-22 and F-35, but the Air Force has agreed to purchase new F-15s at a per-unit price that even exceeds new F-35 orders. Why? There are a number of reasons, but chief among them are operational costs (the F-15 is far cheaper per flight hour than either the F-35 or the F-22), and immediate production capability. Boeing has already been building advanced F-15s for American allies in nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, so standing up a new production line for the United States comes with relatively little cost.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
The F-15EX (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Related: THE AIR FORCE JUST DROPPED NEW CONCEPT ART OF ITS NGAD FIGHTER

The F-22’s production line, on the other hand, hasn’t existed in nearly a decade. In a report submitted to Congress in 2017, it was estimated that restarting F-22 production would cost the United States $50 billion just to procure 194 more fighters. That breaks down to between $206 and $216 million per fighter, as compared to the F-35’s current price of around $80 million per airframe and the F-15EX’s per-unit price of approximately $88 million.

Does that mean it’s impossible to build new F-22s? Of course not. With enough money, anything is possible — but as estimated costs rise, the question becomes: Is it practical? And the answer to that question seems to be an emphatic no. The U.S. Air Force has invested a comparatively tiny $9 billion into its own Next Generation Air Dominance fighter program — aimed at developing a replacement for the F-22 — over the span of six years (2019-2025).

If the new NGAD fighter enters service on schedule, it may even get to fly alongside the F-22 before it heads out to pasture. So, while the Raptor’s reign as king of the skies may soon come to an end, it may not be before America has a new contender for the title.


This article by Alex Hollings was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher L. Ingersoll

Intel

Stunning footage shows pilot’s eye view from inside a Blue Angel cockpit

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are arguably the best among military aerial demonstration teams. While they claim to be no better than any of their fleet peers, Blue Angel pilots operate with margins that only the “best of the best” could handle day in and day out.


The Blues have been soaring through the wild blue yonder since 1946, dazzling hundreds of thousands of fans from March to November every year.

Join the team for a close formation, high-G ride in this amazing video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKkbSch90qs
Intel

This highly-selective Marine Corps unit does a job no one really wants to do

One of the Marine Corps’ most-selective units carries out a job that no one really wants to do.


Comprised of just 15 Marine infantrymen, the Body Bearers Section of Bravo Co., Marine Barracks Washington primarily handles the delicate task of bearing the caskets of fallen Marines, family members, and Marine veterans at Arlington National Cemetery and surrounding cemeteries in Washington, D.C.

“We go out into Arlington and just about every day it’s somebody’s worst day,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Ryder, in a video produced by Marine Barracks Washington.

The official Marine Corps website writes:

The road to becoming a Body Bearer is not an easy. Each member has to demonstrate that he has the bearing and physical strength to carry out this mission. A typical day for a Body Bearer includes several hours of ceremonial drill practice and intensive weight training and conditioning. The remainder of the day includes infantry knowledge and skills proficiency training.

According to the video, Marines who try out for the section and attend ceremonial drill school must be able to complete 10 reps each of 225 pound bench press, 315 pound back squats, 135 pound military press (behind the head), and 115 pound bicep curls.

“It’s one of those jobs where it’s taxing on your emotions,” Ryder said. “But when you get it perfect for the family, everything is worth it.”

Now watch:

NOW: Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

Intel

Israel just sabotaged Iran’s nuclear enrichment program – again

It’s just one of those things – Israel didn’t take responsibility, but everyone seems to know it was Israel. Iran’s nuclear scientists seem to keep dying in explosions. The Natanz centrifuges keep finding ways to go out of commission, either from computer viruses, mysterious explosions, or this time, due to a blackout. 

It happens so often, even Israeli media back in Tel Aviv seem to know Mossad’s work when they see it. 

On April 11, 2021, centrifuges at Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear material production site suffered a catastrophic blackout, which may have been caused by an explosion. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Israeli government of sabotaging the plant with an act of “nuclear terrorism.” 

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any responsibility for the incident. Nor has it ever confirmed or denied responsibility for any one of the many Iranian nuclear scientists who have died from explosions, poisonous gas leaks, or a one-ton automated gun. At least seven Iranian nuclear scientists have met a mysterious fate since 2007. 

But killing nuclear scientists haven’t been the only setbacks for the Iranian nuclear program. Aside from their deaths and the latest setback, a fire at the facility in August of 2020 caused the temporary shutdown of the Iranian enrichment program. In 2010, a virus called Stuxnet caused chaos at the facility, forcing sensitive equipment to spin out of control and overheat. 

The blackout, which may sound harmless, may still have done untold damage to the centrifuges at the facility.

“Since the first-generation centrifuges are very sensitive and precise devices, it is likely that the sudden power outage damaged 5,000 of them and made them unusable,” Behrooz Bayat said in an interview with VOA Persian on Monday. Bayat is a consultant with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. “This does not mean that they cannot be repaired, but it will take months, and Iran’s enrichment program will be postponed.”

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
Centrifuges found in a warehouse near Tuwaitha, Iraq that could be used to seperate high-grade Uranium from natural Uranium. Similar centrifuges were damaged in Iran, setting back their nuclear program substantially. (Action Team 1991-1998 / IAEA, Flickr)

The incident comes just days before the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Israel for a historic meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Benny Gantz. It also comes at the heels of talks between the U.S. and Iran for rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

“The diplomatic discussions that have been taking place … we expect them to be difficult and long,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Voice of America. “We have not been given any indication about a change in participation for these discussions.”

Iran stopped short of officially blaming Israel for the blackout, but has promised future retribution for the repeated attacks. Originally built in a bunker to protect it from an air attack, external forces have to get creative in hitting the Natanz facility. Iran is now rebuilding the entire facility deep inside a nearby mountain, south of the capital of Tehran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often described Iran as the premier threat to the nation of Israel, a sentiment echoed by many Israeli officials

“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world, of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region, and protect the state of Israel.”

Attacks on the Natanz facility or any part of Iran’s nuclear program are not likely to stop anytime soon.

Intel

New bill aims to give Coast Guard voting seat in Joint Chiefs of Staff

America’s oldest continuing seagoing service may finally get a voting position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Congressman Charlie Crist of Florida is one of the representatives working hard to make sure of it. 

“I was the Governor during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010. I witnessed the tarballs on the beaches and in fact witnessed it with President Obama,” Crist shared. “I’ll never forget working alongside the Coast Guard and flying in a chopper above the ocean and seeing miles of oil while trying to assess the damage… I just wanted to offer legislation to make sure coasties are dealt with as any other branch of our military. It’s the right thing to do.”

On March 24, Crist introduced H.R.2136 alongside Congressman Steven Palazzo which seeks to amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for the membership of the Commandant of the Coast Guard on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Despite being a military branch of service, the Coast Guard is only considered a de facto member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
PENSACOLA, Fla – Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Gov. Charlie Crist, and Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, national incident commander, tour the Coast Guard Cutter Oak, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Charleston, South Carolina, that has been working to remove oil using the Vessel of Opportunity Skimming System, June 29, 2010. Coast Guard Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn.

The Coast Guard’s unique role in national security is undeniable. Main missions include maritime interception operations, deployed port operations/security and defense, peacetime engagement and environmental defense operations. Throughout history the Coast Guard held a place beside the U.S. Navy as a partner in defense while also maintaining a command role in U.S. Maritime Defense. The time for them to have a voice at the table could never be more timely, considering the continuing and escalating threats facing our nation. 

After witnessing the 2019 Government Shutdown and watching the Coast Guard go without pay but continuing to serve and protect, Crist said he was moved to fight even harder for them. “That experience really led me to this legislation to make the Commandant a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I just think it’s essential,” he explained. “When we are talking about national defense and keeping Florida and American families safe, I want all of our leaders to be at the table advising President Biden, that undoubtedly must include the Coast Guard.”

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
Congressman Charlie Crist, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 13th District, waves to beachgoers Tuesday, May 30, 2017, alongside Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Kuchar, crew member at Air Station Clearwater, during an aerial assessment of erosion along Pinellas County, Florida’s coast. U.S. Coast Guard by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

Often, the Coast Guard can feel like an afterthought for many within the public when considering military service despite having fought in almost every major conflict the United States has been a part of. This bill will help change that perception. “Left behind no more. We gotta get this thing passed and done. It’s just respect,” Crist said. “I can’t imagine any member voting against doing this. It isn’t right versus left, it’s right versus wrong.”

In the Press Release Crist released it states, “The Coast Guard is playing an increasingly important role in our national defense – from countering China, to protecting national security in the Arctic, to preventing illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The bill offered by Crist and Palazzo reinforces the value of the Coast Guard’s role in our national security by promoting the Commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing parity with the other branches of the Armed Forces.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff originated during World War II after the attacks on Pearl Harbor as an advisory panel for the President and other civilian leaders on military issues. In 2012 the National Guard was given a seat at the table followed by the Space Force in 2020. The Coast Guard was established in 1790 and is America’s oldest continuous seagoing service but still hasn’t been given voting privileges. With the passing of this bill, they’ll finally receive their full seat and voice at the table alongside the other branch Chiefs.  

“I think we need to do everything we can to right what I feel has been wrong in the past and get the Coast Guard on par with every branch of the military in our country,” Crist implored. “This is about the dedication by members of the Coast Guard, how much they care about their mission and also doing what’s right for the American people.”

Intel

This riveting animated short reveals the complexities of war

“Confusion Through Sand” tells the story of a young infantryman confronted by overwhelming conflict when he’s sent to a small, sandy village. Scared and alone, he has to fight his way out of an ambush.


The nine-minute short reveals the confusion of war from the warfighter’s perspective. It explores the spectrum of haze experienced by today’s soldiers in the desert, interpreting what happens when training encounters circumstances beyond the realm of human control.

The story is on the ground and under the helmet of a 19-year-old infantryman, according to the video’s Kickstarter campaign.

Watch:

NOW: Iraq war vet relives his most intense gunfight

OR: This beautifully animated video shows tow WWII pilots fighting all the way to Hell

Intel

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world

  • In April, Coast Guard ships had close encounters in the Persian Gulf and sailed into the Black Sea.
  • The missions reflect the Coast Guard’s role overseas, set to grow amid competition with China.
  • But that will add to the service’s responsibilities as it balances current missions and future needs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Encounters far from home in April underscored the US Coast Guard’s growing overseas role, which is set to expand as more attention and resources are dedicated to countering China.

On April 2, an Iranian ship repeatedly sailed in front of Coast Guard patrol boats Wrangell and Monomoy at “an unnecessarily close range” as they operated in the Persian Gulf, which the US deemed “unsafe and unprofessional.”

Three weeks later, Iranian vessels again approached US ships — Navy patrol boat Firebolt and Coast Guard patrol boat Baranof — in the Gulf. After verbal warnings to the Iranian ships went unheeded, Firebolt fired warning shots.

Wrangell, Monomoy, and Baranof are all based in Bahrain as part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside the US, which was set up in 2002 to support operations in the Middle East.

Hours after Baranof’s encounter, the Coast Guard cutter Hamilton sailed into the Black Sea, where longstanding tensions increased this spring, amid a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
Iranian ship Harth 55, left, crosses the bow of US Coast Guard patrol boat Monomoy, right, in the Persian Gulf, April 2, 2021. 

Hamilton had escorted two cutters sailing from the US to join Patrol Forces Southwest Asia but remained in Europe, sailing into the Black Sea on April 27. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that day that its Black Sea Fleet was monitoring Hamilton’s “actions.”

Hamilton is the first Coast Guard vessel to enter the Black Sea since 2008 and is “emblematic of our presence in the Black Sea,” Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, said in response to a question from Insider at an Atlantic Council event on April 29.

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Defense Department, but it often works with other branches of the US military and with foreign militaries.

“We particularly appreciate the Coast Guard’s ability to cooperate with other equivalent services … around the world, but in this case in the Black Sea,” Cooper said.

Cooper echoed Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, who said in March that while the service hadn’t operated in Europe “in a good number of years,” the deployment suited its ability to cooperate and compete.

“I think the Coast Guard brings access. The Coast Guard brings a different look. The Coast Guard brings some unique, complimentary capabilities,” Schultz told reporters after his annual address to the service.

‘We’re going to push them out’

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
A Turkish coast guard boat escorts the Hamilton in the Mediterranean Sea, April 27, 2021. 

The Coast Guard often ventures long distances to enforce US laws and help other countries assert their own.

Coast Guard ships patrol the eastern Pacific Ocean to intercept drug smugglers. Cutters were deployed to Africa’s Atlantic coast to assist countries there in 2019 and 2020 for the first time in nearly a decade. In late 2020, a cutter was deployed on a South Atlantic patrol for the first time “in recent memory.”

The Coast Guard’s presence in the western Pacific Ocean is also increasing amid broader competition with China.

Since mid-2020, the service has stationed three new fast-response cutters in Guam, a US territory. Those ships have “about a 10,000-mile reach,” Schultz said in March.

“We’re going to push them out to some of the outer reaches of Oceania. We’re going to team them up with national security cutters on occasion,” Schultz added, referring to the service’s largest cutters, which include Hamilton.

Many recent Coast Guard operations have focused on countering illegal fishing, a growing source of friction with China. In December, a Coast Guard cutter helped Palau apprehend a Chinese vessel suspected of illegal fishing.

The Marine Corps of the future will focus on small, agile combat
US Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japanese Coast Guard ship Akitsushima during an exercise near Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, February 21, 2021. 

Coast Guard ships also work with the US Navy in the region. In May 2019, a Coast Guard cutter transited the Taiwan Strait for the first time, sailing alongside a Navy destroyer.

“I just think those lines are going to thicken,” Schultz said of Navy-Coast Guard cooperation.

The Navy’s operational tempo “has been very high for a considerable period … so it’s not surprising that they’d reach out and try to supplement” with the Coast Guard, said Michael Desch, a professor and international-security expert at Notre Dame.

But the Coast Guard’s more overt role comes as the US military’s service branches balance resources between current missions and modernization.

The Coast Guard has a number of domestic responsibilities and a growing role in the increasingly accessible Arctic but didn’t see the same budget increases as other branches did during the Trump administration.

While the Coast Guard is very capable and often better suited than the Navy to work with foreign forces, the growing workload should raise questions about the scope of US commitments, Desch said.

The recent encounters “seem to be indicative of the fact that we’re being stretched by all the things that we’re doing,” Desch told Insider. “Rather than throwing everything we’ve got but the kitchen sink at some of these missions, we ought to ask ourselves, are these missions really essential?”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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