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While the Coast Guard’s organizational positioning is unique—part of one cabinet level department during peace (Homeland Security) and another during war or under Presidential direction (Navy)—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 6], 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 a daily average the Coast Guard responds to 19 oil and hazardous chemical spills, conducts almost 300 safety and law enforcement vessel boardings, seizes illegal drugs worth nearly 11 million dollars, conducts 106 search and rescue cases, assists 136 people in distress, saves 11 lives, and enforces 103 security zones [Footnote 7].

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 [Footnote 8]. Operation Noble Eagle, launched after the attacks of September 11, 2002, is the Coast Guard’s largest homeland port security operation since World War II. 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 6] Scheina, R. The Coast Guard at War.
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[Footnote 7] U.S. Coast Guard Average Day Factoids.
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[Footnote 8] U.S. Coast Guard Homeland Security.
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