Coast Guard Operations
Emerging Challenges and Responses
Published in: European Security & Defence/Maritime Defence Monitor, Combined Special Issue, pages 137-141 (May 2023)
Posted on RAND.org on May 19, 2023
The world's coast guards are a motley crew, whose missions, authorities, and responsibilities vary greatly by country. Some nations have a single maritime service with both coast guard and naval responsibilities; others have a separate coast guard. Separate coast guards can be military services (or not), and may or may not have law-enforcement authorities. They are overseen by various ministries or departments, and their institutional relationships with other government agencies, including naval forces, vary greatly. Mostly, what they have in common is authority for handling some subset of a broad range of maritime missions. Iconic missions include helping to prevent, mitigate, and responding to incidents and disasters at sea. Many coast guards contribute to safe maritime movements through regulation, inspections, and other oversight, as well as providing aids to navigation and addressing hazards, such as ice. They are often called upon to counter illegal fishing, piracy, smuggling, and a range of other illicit activities. Some protect civilian and/or defence assets from possible attack, while many have responsibilities for pollution prevention and response.