While the Coast Guard's organizational positioning is unique—part of one cabinet level department during peace (Transportation) and another during war or under Presidential direction (Defense)—its contributions to national defense have been significant over the years since the USCG's creation. The USCG represents the oldest continuous seagoing service in this country and has fought in almost every war since implementation of the U.S. Constitution to include battles with pirates, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Seminole Indian uprising, the Spanish-American War, both world wars, Korea, Vietnam[footnote 7], and the Persian Gulf War, where the USCG was the only Armed Force with the ship search capabilities necessary to make the embargo of seagoing goods a success.
On a daily basis numerous Coast Guard personnel are protecting our nation's ports, shores, and waters. On average, each day in FY 2001 the Coast Guard: conducted nearly 400 small boat missions, flew roughly 160 aircraft missions, boarded close to 145 vessels, seized nearly 500 pounds of illegal drugs worth approximately 10 million dollars, conducted about 110 search and rescue cases, assisted nearly 200 people in distress, saved 10 lives, and protected nearly three million dollars worth of property within more than 3.4 million square miles of Exclusive Economic Zones.[footnote 8]
The Coast Guard has always held a key role in ensuring our nation's maritime homeland security. However, the pace of security activities in and around our ports has increased tremendously since September 11th. Operation Noble Eagle, launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001, is the Coast Guard's largest homeland port security operation since World War II.[footnote 9] With such varied missions, roles, and responsibilities, the U.S. Coast Guard truly is a full-time military organization with a genuine peacetime mission.
[Footnote 7] URL: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/h_USCGhistory.html. [back to paragraph]
[Footnote 8] U.S. Coast Guard Average Day Factoids. URL: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/comrel/factfile/Factcards/AvgDay.html. [back to paragraph]
[Footnote 9] U.S. Coast Guard Homeland Security and the New Normalcy. URL: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/comrel/factfile/Factcards/homeland.htm. [back to paragraph]