Crossing Interagency Lines

Enhancing Navy-Coast Guard Cooperation to Combat Gray Zone Conflicts of East Asia

Published in: Asia-Pacific Journal of Ocean Law and Policy, Volume 3, Issue 2 (2018). doi: doi.org/10.1163/24519391-00302006

Posted on RAND.org on January 08, 2019

by Lyle J. Morris

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Coast guard and navies, despite their varying missions, doctrine, and asset composition, share the responsibility of monitoring and defending coastal States from intrusions by foreign vessels into territorial waters. This shared responsibility has taken on added significance over the last decade due to the increasing challenge posed by gray zone actions by maritime actors in East Asia. States now desire greater coast guard-naval cooperation to address such actions, especially near disputed territory where policy-makers seek to contain the challenge using law enforcement, not military means. Yet for most States, the nature of this delineation has not been adequately addressed or is still being determined. Using the region of East Asia as a case study, and drawing upon interoperability linkages with the United States Coast Guard (USCGG) and United States Navy, this paper proposes that greater coordination and interoperability between navies and coast guards should be pursued among States in the region as one prescription to address gray zone challenges. While significant investments in training, C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) and legal authorities are necessary in the long term to achieve true interoperability, this paper proposes steps that states can take to enhance existing linkages.

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