Leaders from the National Guard and the Coast Guard agreed here on Tuesday that when the two services join forces, “it’s overall a better capability for the United States.”
Strengthening the partnership is important, because “it has become very clear to me … there is just too much work out there for any one of us to do on our own,” Adm. Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard said at the Army National Guard Readiness Center. “There are certain key things the Coast Guard does that we’re pretty darn good at, but we lack the capability for sustained operations.”
The National Guard and the Coast Guard are the federal first responders to natural disasters and other civil emergencies, and “our shared domestic mission, as by necessity, has caused (us) to engage in cooperative operations when necessary,” said Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Carter, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.
As Guardsmen, the two services have many things in common, but also some unique capabilities.
One of the things that the two services share is how small they are in relation to the entire Department of Defense.
“Even though we are about 10 times the size of the Coast Guard, we share the same problem sets when dealing with funding, authority and dealing with larger DoD structures,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Dan Bader, special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.
He added that this only improves the joint capabilities of both services.
“We also find that both of us are national and local, and because we are local and we respond locally, we are able to form relationships with the local civilian first responders and with each other,” Bader said.
Most recently in the United States, the National Guard and the Coast Guard have worked jointly on Deepwater Horizon and search-and-rescue missions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“Over that last 10 years and because of the scale of responses … we have learned that it is more important than ever to work together, and to build those relationships before we see one another at the incident site, so that when something does happen, we are able to respond more rapidly,” Bader said.
“As long as the National Guard and the Coast Guard work together, and share each other’s capabilities, we can better serve America in operations here at home.”