Blunt Defenders of Sovereignty

The Rise of Coast Guards of East and Southeast Asia

Published in: Naval War College Review, Spring 2017, Vol. 70, No. 2, p. 75-112

by Lyle J. Morris

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Coast guards in the region are acting as "blunt defenders of sovereignty," undertaking actions such as ramming other states' coast guard and fishing vessels, rather than acting as traditional instruments of law enforcement against strictly civilian actors. The use of coast guards — nominally under civilian control — as instruments to protect claimed territory while conducting peacetime patrols of disputed maritime territory has blurred the line between the platforms and missions traditionally associated with "law enforcement" and those associated with "national defense."

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