According to RDML Shannon N. Gilreath, USCG, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District, US Coast Guard, the maritime transportation system has a value of $5.4 trillion to the US economy. There are a lot of potential threats to this valuable system. Gilreath highlighted three of these threats: The risk of physical attack (terrorism or sabotage), cyber risk, and informational warfare risk.

“My experience as a Coast Guard officer doing emergency response, whether that be Hurricane Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, or responses in individual ports, that unity of effort is probably the number one thing that decides whether you are successful or not,” said Gilreath.

“The information in warfare risk I’m afraid is something that we need to be thinking about because that can have a serious impact on the trust and I can’t underestimate the value of trust for you enough in moving in one of these type responses—that trust is absolutely essential,” he explained.

To help foster effective maritime security, the Coast Guard utilizes regulatory policy and international agency collaboration.

“While the Coast Guard is definitely the lead Federal Agency from a maritime security perspective, we are not doing this by ourselves, we can’t do it by ourselves. When you talk about great power competition, there’s no single entity that can do it all by themselves,” said Gilreath. “It has to be a shared and joint effort for us to be successful, to truly compete.”

The Coast Guard also works to achieve maritime domain awareness through initiatives and interagency coordination. To the end, the Service provides port security grants and funding, and encourages information sharing among key stakeholders.

With regard to the Coast Guard’s maritime security response operations, Gilreath said the Service is committed to supporting contingency operations and military outloads through early and effective planning, and partnerships.

In closing, Gilreath emphasized the significance of relationships in the ability to be successful long term. “Because in my career, those relationships have been extremely important to the success of any Coast Guard operation that we undertake.” DTJ

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