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United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

April 7, 2010: 

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd:
The Honorable George V. Voinovich:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Homeland Security:
Committee on Appropriations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable David E. Price:
The Honorable Harold Rogers:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Homeland Security:
Committee on Appropriations: 

House of Representatives: 

Subject: Coast Guard: Deployable Operations Group Achieving 
Organizational Benefits, but Challenges Remain: 

This letter formally transmits the enclosed briefing in response to 
congressional direction accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations 
Act of 2008 to report on the Coast Guard's Deployable Operations 
Group.[Footnote 1] Specifically, we are reporting on the extent to 
which the Deployable Operations Group achieved its intended benefits 
and the challenges it faces as it continues to mature. For a summary 
of the results of our work, see enclosure 1, slides 9-10. Based on the 
results of our review, we are not making any recommendations for 
congressional consideration or agency action. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees. We are also sending copies to the Department of Homeland 
Security and the U.S. Coast Guard. This report will also be available 
at no charge on our Web site at [hyperlink,]. 
Should you or your staff have questions concerning this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-9610, or Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report were 
Christopher Conrad, Assistant Director; Danny Burton; Lara Kaskie; 
Stanley Kostyla; Ryan Lambert; and Jeremy Rothgerber. 

Signed by: 

Stephen L. Caldwell:
Director, Homeland Security and Justice: 

Enclosures (3): 

cc: Mr. Scott Nance:
Ms. Rebecca Davies:
Mr. Will Painter:
Mr. Ben Nicholson: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: Briefing on the Coast Guard's Deployable Operations Group: 

Coast Guard: Deployable Operations Group Achieving Organizational 
Benefits, but Challenges Remain: 

[Figure: Refer to PDF for image: photograph of helicopter and boat] 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Briefing for the Subcommittees on Homeland Security, Committees on 
Appropriations, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives: 

Briefing Overview: 
* Introduction; 
* Objectives, Scope, and Methodology; 
* Summary; 
* Background; 
* Findings; 
* Agency Comments. 

The U.S. Coast Guard's Deployable Operations Group (DOG) was 
established in July 2007 to align all of the service's deployable 
specialized forces under a single unified command. Creation of the DOG 
was an integral part of the Coast Guard's modernization program—-a 
major, ongoing effort to update its command structure, support 
systems, and business practices.[Footnote 2] 	 

Figure 1: Deployable Operations Group Seal: 

[Refer to PDF for image: Deployable Operations Group Seal] 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

According to Coast Guard officials, the DOG is intended to enhance 
operational effectiveness and interagency coordination in responding 
to a wide range of national emergencies and events, such as terrorist 
threats or natural disasters.	 

Introduction: Deployable Forces under Command of the DOG: 

With a total of approximately 3,000 personnel, the Coast Guard's 
deployable specialized forces (DSF) consist of five types of teams or 
units, as follows:[Footnote 3] 

* National Strike Force. The three teams—Atlantic Strike Team, Gulf 
Strike Team, and Pacific Strike Team—have incident-management skills 
and specialized equipment to respond to oil spills and other hazardous 
substance pollution incidents.[Footnote 4] 

* Tactical Law Enforcement Teams (TACLET). The Coast Guard's two 
TACLETs deploy units known as Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDET) 
aboard U.S. Navy vessels to enforce U.S. and international laws. 
Typically, the interdiction of illicit narcotics is a primary mission. 

* Port Security Units (PSU). The Coast Guard's eight PSUs are 
expeditionary forces responsible for maintaining security in overseas 
ports during U.S. military operations. 

* Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST). The Coast Guard's 12 
MSSTs constitute a domestic force for mitigating or responding to 
terrorist threats or incidents. Teams have deployed, for example, to 
national special security events such as the presidential 
inauguration, the Olympics, and the Super Bowl. 

* Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT). The MSRT is a 
counterterrorism unit trained to conduct advanced interdiction 
operations in hostile environments—such as vertically inserting team 
members from a helicopter to a ship's deck to neutralize potentially 
hostile personnel. 

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 


In accordance with congressional direction accompanying the Coast 
Guard's fiscal year 2008 appropriations,[Footnote 5] and as agreed 
with your offices, this report addresses the following questions: 

* To what extent has the Deployable Operations Group achieved its 
intended benefits? 

* What challenges, if any, does the Deployable Operations Group face 
as it continues to mature? 

Scope and Methodology: 

To answer the objectives, we analyzed: 

* DOG charter documents, relevant Coast Guard reports and documents—
including briefing materials and journal articles—and congressional 
testimony to identify the primary origin and intended benefits of the 

* DOG policy doctrine; workforce plans; recruiting and training 
initiatives; scheduling and force apportionment procedures; strategic 
plans; and documents regarding the development of tactics, techniques, 
and procedures; 

* After-action reports for key operations or exercises conducted since 
the DOG's inception; and; 

* Briefing materials and background documents for each of the five 
types of deployable specialized forces. 

We also conducted interviews with Coast Guard officials and 
interagency partners, to include: 

* DOG officials and senior program officials at Coast Guard 

* commanding officers and key personnel from Maritime Safety and 
Security Teams in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles/Long 
Beach; Port Security Unit San Pedro; Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement 
Team; Pacific Strike Team; the National Strike Force Coordination 
Center; and the Maritime Security Response Team;[Footnote 6] 

* representatives from all three of the Coast Guard's field command 
levels (Area, District, Sector). Specifically, we visited Pacific Area 
and Atlantic Area, two District offices, as well as Sector Hampton 
Roads, Sector San Francisco, Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, and Sector 
San Diego; and; 

* interagency liaisons to the DOG from the Department of Defense (DOD) 
Special Operations Command, Customs and Border Protection, and a Navy 
unit that routinely deploys with the Coast Guard's Port Security Units. 

* To obtain additional information regarding the mission and skill 
sets of individual deployable units, we also observed demonstrations 
of specialized capabilities, such as the detection of explosives by 
canines, the use of vertical insertion for boarding vessels at sea, 
and an interagency exercise conducted in preparation of the 2010 
Winter Olympic Games, in which Maritime Safety and Security Teams and 
the Maritime Security Response Team were involved. 

* We conducted this performance audit from July 2009 to April 2010 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Summary: Key Benefits Achieved Since Establishment of the DOG: 

The unified command structure established by the creation of the DOG 
has achieved its intended benefits by facilitating the Coast Guard's 
ability to standardize training and processes while using deployable 
specialized forces as centrally managed global assets, rather than 
local or regional assets. Specifically, the unified command structure 
has achieved four key benefits: 

(1) standardized tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP); 

(2) standardized the process used to allocate deployable resources and 
based those allocations on specific capabilities rather than entire 

(3) implemented an employment schedule that provides dedicated 
training periods for DOG units to maintain operational readiness, 
among other improvements; and; 

(4) enhanced management and oversight functions, such as establishment 
of dedicated program managers for each type of deployable unit, and 
collaborative working groups to help improve standardization and 
develop TTP. 

Summary: Challenges Facing the DOG: 

As the DOG continues to mature, the command faces various challenges 
that may impact its ability to ensure that each deployable unit is 
staffed and trained and that the DSF community is prepared to meet its 
broad range of responsibilities. 

* In particular, DSF units face human resource challenges associated 
with assessing and selecting qualified candidates. Other challenges 
involve achieving and maintaining qualifications for capabilities that 
are critical for maritime interdiction missions, such as vertical 
insertion from a helicopter onto the deck of a ship. 

* The Coast Guard is generally taking, or has plans to take, actions 
to address the issues that we identified. For example, it has 
developed partnerships with other agencies to better leverage 
potential training assets and has requested additional billets for 
selected units, where applicable. Further, to address potential gaps 
in its ability to prevent high consequence attacks, such as those 
involving weapons of mass destruction, the Coast Guard is also 
considering options for expanding select capabilities to other U.S. 
regions. Although such actions should help mitigate identified 
challenges, in many cases it is too soon to tell the potential impact. 
In addition, these challenges will be affected, in part, by the Coast 
Guard's fiscal year 2011 budget, which proposes a reduction in the 
total number of deployable units available. 

Background: Origin and Intended Benefits of the DOG: 

As part of the Coast Guard's overall modernization effort, the DOG was 
created on July 20, 2007, as an independent Coast Guard command 
intended to integrate deployable specialized forces, provide a single 
community of interest, improve organizational efficiencies, and 
enhance mission effectiveness. The creation of the DOG was also 
intended to improve the process by which operational and tactical 
commanders request deployable forces and the Coast Guard can assess 
its ability to support and allocate forces to best meet those requests. 

Based partly on lessons learned following the response to Hurricanes 
Katrina and Rita, the Coast Guard identified actions that it believed 
were necessary to enhance its ability to surge forces and better 
leverage the unique operational capabilities of deployable specialized 
forces. Specifically, the Coast Guard intended to: 

* establish a unified command structure under which all deployable 
specialized forces would operate; 

* group deployable capabilities into tailored force packages; 

* enhance standardization across the deployable units to permit 
national and global employment; and; 

* optimize the employment of specialized force packages when 
responding to maritime threats and disasters. 

Background: Deployable Specialized Forces Command Structure: 

Prior to the DOG, deployable specialized forces were aligned under a 
geographically divergent command structure—Atlantic (LANT) Area and 
Pacific (PAC) Area, respectively. The DOG now serves to integrate 
these forces under a single command entity, as illustrated below. 

Figure 2: Comparison of Deployable Specialized Forces Command 
Structure, Pre- and Post-DOG: 

[Refer to PDF for image: 2 organization charts] 


Top level: 
Coast Guard HQ; 

Second level, reporting to Coast Guard HQ: 
* Atlantic Area; 
* National Strike Force Coordination Center; 
* Pacific Area. 

Third level, reporting to Atlantic Area: 
* MSRT. 

Third level, reporting to National Strike Force Coordination Center: 
* Strike Teams. 

Third level, reporting to Pacific Area: 
* PAC PSUs. 


Top level: 
Coast Guard HQ; 

Second level: 
Pacific Area Command/Force Readiness Command[A]. 

Third level: 
Deployable Operations Group. 

Fourth level: 
All DSF units (MSST, TACLETs, PSUs, MSRT, and Strike Teams). 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[A] The DOG is currently under the operational control of Pacific Area 
Command. However, the DOG is to report to the Force Readiness Command, 
or FORCECOM, pending enactment of a legislative change proposal 
intended to enable the Coast Guard to establish additional three-star 
vice admiral positions. While several current bills (e.g., H.R. 2650, 
H.R. 3619, and S. 1194) contain the Coast Guard's legislative change 
proposal provisions, as of April 1, 2010, such bills were pending. 

[End of figure] 

Background: Primary DOG Roles and Responsibilities: 

The DOG was created through the internal transfer of existing Coast 
Guard billets and is intended to function as: 

* a force manager, with responsibility for standardizing, as 
appropriate, the staffing, equipping, and training of the Coast 
Guard's deployable specialized forces; 

* a force provider, with responsibility for providing operational 
commanders with adaptive force packages drawn from the services 
deployable specialized forces, and coordinating and executing all 
deployments of these forces; and; 

* a force integrator, with responsibility for developing partnerships 
and facilitating interoperability with Coast Guard, the Department of 
Homeland Security, DOD, and other agencies. 

As a collateral duty, two 21-person teams within the DOG are also 
trained to help support on-scene operational commanders during major 
events. These subject matter experts, collectively referred to as the 
Deployable Element, are available to integrate into an incident 
command post or may help coordinate tactics and logistics for deployed 
force packages as needed. 

Background: DOG Organizational Chart: 

The DOG is composed of 113 personnel, who are organized among eight 
distinct divisions, a command cadre, and related support staff (see 
figure 3). 

Figure 3: Organizational Chart of the Deployable Operations Group: 

[Refer to PDF for image: organization chart] 

Top level: 
DOG commander: 
* Executive assistant; 
* Command master chief. 

Second level, reporting to DOG commander: 
DOG deputy commander: 
* External affairs; 
* Legal advisor. 

Third level, reporting to DOG deputy commander: 
* Personnel support; 
* Intelligence; 
* Operations; 
* Engineering and logistics; 
* Plans and exercises; 
* Communications and security; 
* Training and assessment; 
* Resource and requirements. 

Source U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Background: Fiscal Year 2011 Coast Guard Budget Proposal: 

The Coast Guard's fiscal year 2011 budget request of $9.87 billion is 
approximately $35.8 million less than the fiscal year 2010 enacted 
budget. The budget request also includes several initiatives which, if 
implemented, will impact the structure and resources of the deployable 
specialized forces. Specifically, the budget calls for: 

(1) Decommissioning the National Strike Force Coordination Center; 
* Intended to eliminate redundant functions already provided by the 
DOG, this initiative is to eliminate 9 billets and relocate the 
remaining 17 billets. 

(2) Decommissioning five Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST); 
[Footnote 7] 
* The seven remaining MSSTs are to deploy regionally to mitigate the 
highest prevailing port security risks in the nation's critical ports. 

(3) Increasing the capacity of Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDET); 
* The Coast Guard is to reinvest some of the MSST billets to grow each 
LEDET from 11 to 12 members and establish a new 12-person team (for a 
total of 18). The proposed changes to MSST and LEDET programs are 
expected to result in a net reduction of approximately $18.2 million. 

(4) Permanently relocating two H-60 helicopters from the Maritime 
Security Response Team (Elizabeth City, N.C.) to the Coast Guard Air 
Station in Traverse City, Mich. 
* The H-60 helicopters are intended to replace existing H-65 assets 
which have a more limited range and reduced capability to operate in 
extreme weather. 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Enhanced Standardization and 
Development of Common TTP: 

DOG Standardized Assets and Training for the Deployable Specialized 

* Prior to establishing the DOG, Pacific Area and Atlantic Area 
commands did not have a standardized process to manage DSFs and, as a 
result, independently allocated resources and prioritized operations. 

* The DOG now functions as a single force manager to train and equip 
all DSF units. 

* Officials stated that assets such as boats, weapons, and personal 
protection equipment are in the process of being standardized across 
DOG forces where applicable (see figure 4). 

* DOG also established a training division to provide oversight on 
training activities and ensure adequate training time is apportioned 
to all DSF units. 

Figure 4: Member of a Deployable Unit Wearing Standard Protective 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Development of TTP Enhances DOG's Ability to Meet Operational and 
Tactical Requirements: 

* Establishment of the DOG helped eliminate procedural variations that 
existed between deployable specialized forces regarding how to perform 
specific duties. 

* Coast Guard officials noted that prior to the DOG, utilizing 
deployable specialized forces across geographical regions was 
challenging because of procedural differences between the two Area 
Commands. For example, MSST units on the West Coast operated with 
three-person boat crews, while MSST units on the East Coast operated 
four-person boat crews for the same vessel. 

* Coast Guard officials further noted that no specific TTP existed for 
deployable specialized forces prior to the DOG, which is now 
responsible for developing all TTP related to advanced capabilities 
for its deployable specialized forces. 

- The DOG established a TTP working group, where DOG personnel and 
unit representatives meet quarterly to continue to develop UP, 
identify needs, review policies, and update or reprioritize TTP. 

- In 2008, the DOG developed UP addressing various aspects of 
waterborne insertion/extraction operations, vertical insertion, and 
unannounced nighttime boardings. 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Adaptive Force Packaging: 

Adaptive Force Packaging Allows DOG to Better Target Resources to 
Operational Needs: 

* Prior to the DOG, deployable specialized forces were usually 
requested by sectors as an entire unit. However, the sectors generally 
needed specific capabilities within that unit, which resulted in 
excess capacity and unnecessary costs. 

* The DOG now allocates resources based on specific capabilities 
rather than by entire units. Officials stated that as a result, assets 
are utilized more effectively and are targeted to operational needs. 
For example, the DOG may send a single boat crew and a dive team 
rather than an entire MSST. 

* As a dedicated force provider, the DOG is able to pull from the 
entire range of capabilities available among its units to create 
adaptive, tailored packages of resources to respond rapidly to a range 
of environmental, safety, and security threats. 

Figure 5: Members of MSST Unit Conducting Boarding Tactics Training: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source, U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Employment Schedule and Request 
for Forces Process: 

Employment Schedule Provides Dedicated Training Periods for DOG Units 
to Maintain Operational Readiness: 

* Prior to the establishment of the DOG, the frequent deployment of 
some units adversely impacted training and leave schedules. The DOG 
developed and standardized an employment schedule that identifies when 
units are either deployed, on standby, available, or are slated for 
required training or leave periods. 

* According to officials, the DOG training division actively manages 
training by evaluating requirements and identifying gaps in training 
schedules to ensure all training requirements for deployable 
specialized forces are met. 

* Further, the DOG training division coordinates recurring training 
courses for advanced skills for deployable specialized forces, such as 
close quarters combat, vertical insertion, and high-speed vessel 

Figure 6: Members of Deployable Unit Undergoing Close Quarters Combat 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source, U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Employment Schedule and Request 
for Forces Process: 

Request for Forces Process Allocates DOG Resources Based on 

Coast Guard officials noted that the Request for Forces (RFF) process 
works more efficiently for both planned and unplanned events since the 
DOG was established. 

* For example, an annual planning process exists to identify planned 
events that may require DSF support and resources. Specifically, the 
Sectors/Districts/Areas identify resources they have available and 
request any additional requirements through the DOG. These requests 
are prioritized and the DOG allocates DSF assets based on availability 
and other priorities. 

* Under the DOG, there is also enhanced visibility of the scheduling 
of units and greater recognition of these resources as centrally 
managed assets. For example, officials stated that the response to 
unplanned events is quicker and more organized because dedicated 
personnel at the DOG are responsible for prioritizing requirements and 
allocating resources. 

* The DOG also provides a process by which officials from other 
federal agencies, including DOD, Department of State, Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Secret Service, can request 
deployable forces. Further, since DSF resources are placed under a 
single command, the DOG can better provide the status and availability 
of specified capabilities. 

* The streamlined internal and external RFF process captures the 
utilization of DOG capabilities and helps maintain awareness of 
potential impacts on operational readiness (see figures 7 and 8). 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Schedule and Request for Forces 

Request for Forces (RFF) Process Allocates DOG Resources Based on 

Figure 7: Internal Coast Guard Request for Forces (RFF) Process: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Sector initiates RFF and forwards to District[A]; 
District reviews RFF and forwards to Area Command; 
Area Commander endorses RFF and submits to DOG; 
DOG approves RFF and deploys force package. 

Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Coast Guard data. 

[A] The Request for Forces process applies to all DOG units except the 
National Strike Force, which can also be requested directly by the
Sector to mitigate the effects of hazardous substance releases, oil 
discharges, and other environmental emergencies. 

[End of figure] 

Figure 8: Other Federal Agency Request for Forces (RFF) Process: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Agency submits RFF to Coast Guard HQ[B]; 
USCG HO submits RFF request to DOG; 
DOG prioritizes RFF and determines DSF availability; 
DOG approves RFF and deploys force package. 

Source: GAO analysis of U.S. Coast Guard data. 

[B] The Request for Forces is sent directly to the DOG or Area 
Commander if forces are needed in less than 48 hours. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Management and Oversight Functions: 

Unified Command Structure Enhances DOG Management and Oversight: 

DOG officials cite streamlined management functions and enhanced 
oversight as benefits to a unified command structure. Specifically, 
DOG officials stated the following: 

* Having a dedicated program manager at the DOG for each of the 
deployable specialized forces provides increased attention to unit 
needs, including training constraints and potential resource gaps. 

* Input and feedback from DOG units has been enhanced through 
increased collaboration and communication, specifically the TTP 
working groups and annual meetings with commanding officers and 
executive officers. 

* The DOG headquarters Deployable Element provides command and 
control/incident management support to government agencies during 
incidents requiring a multi-agency coordinated response, such as the 
coordinated interagency response to Hurricanes Ike and Gustay. 

* Development of the Maritime Enforcement Specialist rating, which was 
established in January 2010, should enhance opportunities for 
personnel to transition through and remain within the DSF community 
without jeopardizing promotion potential. Additionally, the new rating 
may improve recruiting and retention of personnel and the training and 
readiness of the DSF community. 

Objective 1: Key Benefits Achieved: Coast Guard Haiti Response 

Haiti Response Operations Illustrated Ability of the DOG to Mobilize 
and Deploy Adaptive Force Package in Support of U.S. Federal Response 

According to DOG officials, several successes were identified during 
the Haitian relief effort. For example, 

* The DOG provided liaison officers from the Deployable Element to 
applicable Coast Guard and DOD units to ensure unity of effort and 
help support development of plans to apply targeted DSF assets. 

The Coast Guard's response in Haiti also provided an example of 
deployment of an adaptive force package comprised of several different 
DSF units. Specifically, the DOG deployed: 
* 33 TACLET members; 
* 118 PSU members; 
* 5 DOG staff and 11 MSST members; 
* 4 Strike Team members. 

Figure 9: PSU Members Deployed to Haiti to Support Response Efforts: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: U.S Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Human Resources and Personnel 

DOG Headquarters Staffing Likely to Remain Static for the Foreseeable 

* As of December 2009, the DOG was staffed with 113 billets, 12 more 
than when it was initially established in 2007. 

* Although the Coast Guard envisioned full operating capacity for the 
DOG to be 147 billets, DOG officials do not anticipate additional 
staffing growth given the budget climate and other Coast Guard 
resource priorities. 

- DOG officials noted that, at current staffing levels, they remain 
capable of performing all designated responsibilities; however, some 
functions may take longer than originally anticipated. That is, any 
additional billets would be used to grow the capacity of existing 
functions rather than assume any new roles. 

- For example, a single five-person team is currently responsible for 
conducting annual readiness audits at each of the DSF units. According 
to DOG officials, with additional billets, a second team of five would 
be created to mitigate travel demands and quicken the pace of these 
ongoing audits. 

* The Coast Guard's FY 2011 budget proposes decommissioning the 
National Strike Force Coordination Center, which, if implemented, is 
to relocate 13 existing billets to Washington, D.C. However, officials 
noted that any personnel transferred to the DOG are expected to 
continue performing their current duties, rather than assuming new 
principal responsibilities at the DOG. 

Development of Assessment and Selection Program for DSF Personnel Is 

According to DOG officials, there is no mandatory screening process 
for application to DSF units, largely because there is not sufficient 
demand to allow for a rigorous selection program.[Footnote 8] DSF 
assignments are based on a combination of personnel preferences and 
service needs identified during transfer season.[Footnote 9] 

* It is possible that, due to organizational needs, personnel may be 
assigned to DSFs that they did not list as a preference, or they may 
have difficulty meeting physical or other requirements. Officials 
noted that unit morale or readiness may be impacted whenever personnel 
are unable to perform their assigned roles.[Footnote 10] 

* To facilitate the assignment and selection process, the DOG sponsors 
a voluntary week-long course to help assess basic physical fitness and 
other requirements for DSF billets. According to officials, the course 
has been attended by 30 to 60 individuals each year. 

* DOG officials, however, are also planning to take advantage of 
additional opportunities for DSF recruiting and assessment through 
outreach to candidates of the new Maritime Enforcement Specialist 
rating, over 40 percent of whom are expected to be assigned to DSF 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Training Capacity Constraints: 

Vertical Insertion Training Presents Substantial Demand for Helicopter 

* MSSTs, TACLETS, and MSRTs are each designated as capable of 
performing vertical insertion from a helicopter onto a target vessel, 
which requires considerable training to develop and maintain necessary 
qualifications (see figure 10). 

* San Diego and Cape Cod provide the primary training platforms; 
however, the DOG does not own any required helicopter assets. 
Therefore, the DOG requests aviation resources from Coast Guard Area 
commands and interagency partners and must remain prepared to assemble 
DSF teams quickly when limited training opportunities arise. 

Figure 10: Members of a Deployable Unit Conducting Vertical Insertion 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

* To address this issue, the DOG has taken steps to better leverage 
training resources by bringing DSF units together for training 
whenever possible, as air assets become available. In addition, DOG 
officials noted that they are working with interagency partners to 
conduct joint training. For example, MSST Honolulu has used DOD assets 
and the DOG is currently looking to develop similar partnerships with 
Customs and Border Protection, Los Angeles Police Department, and the 
California National Guard. 

- Given the existing limitations on Coast Guard helicopter assets, 
these interagency partnerships appear to be a reasonable approach to 
leveraging available resources and may potentially reduce travel and 
associated costs whenever training can be conducted closer to the home 
port of a DSF unit. 

* Coast Guard field officials with whom we spoke also offered several 
additional options that could potentially be used to help address 
these training constraints, including reevaluating the need for all 
designated DSF units nationwide to be capable of vertical insertion; 
training additional pilots to perform at least basic vertical 
insertion training; and allocating designated training hours on 
helicopters to DOG units. Further consideration of some of these 
approaches may be important to help mitigate ongoing training 
constraints, particularly in light of the reallocation of two H-60 
helicopters proposed in the Coast Guard's FY 2011 budget.[Footnote 11] 

Limited Resources Available to Meet Demand for TACLET/LEDET Aerial Use 
of Force: 

* According to Coast Guard officials, the aerial use of force (AUF) 
capability—comprised of a combination of an aerial gunner and, under 
some circumstances, a supporting "controller"—is extremely important 
for interdicting illicit drug trafficking (see figure 11). 

* However, officials stated that a lack of dedicated flight hours for 
AUF makes it difficult to obtain training for additional gunners and 

* With counternarcotics funding provided in FY 2010, the Coast Guard 
expanded the number of qualified gunners to 13, as of November 2009. 
However, DOG officials stated that they would like to have a qualified 
gunner assigned to each of the 17 LEDETs. 

* The DOG plans to increase each LEDET from 11 to 12 team members by 
reinvesting billets resulting from the decommissioning of 5 MSSTs. 
[Footnote 12] According to officials, this increase will help ensure 
that additional gunners and associated trainers are available. 

Figure 11: Aerial Gunner Targeting a Suspect Vessel: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[End of figure] 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Proposed MSST Decommissioning: 

Decommissioning of Five Maritime Safety and Security Teams Likely to 
Impact Operational Capacity of the Coast Guard's Deployable 
Specialized Forces: 

* Coast Guard officials stated that the decommissioning of five MSSTs, 
as proposed in the FY 2011 budget, would represent a shift towards a 
more regionally based approach. 

- Officials noted that MSSTs stood up quickly after the September 11th 
attacks and no comprehensive analysis was conducted at that time to 
determine the optimal number of teams and locations.[Footnote 13] 
However, they noted that MSSTs are national deployable assets and are 
not intended to be used exclusively at any individual sector or port. 

- Officials stated that the remaining MSST locations were chosen 
primarily to provide sufficient regional coverage. However, they noted 
that operating costs and presence of other Coast Guard assets also 
played a role in decommissioning decisions. 

* A reduction in MSST capacity will present greater demands on the DOG 
to ensure optimal DSF employment and rapid mobilization during an 
emerging incident. 

- Though remaining MSSTs are to maintain readiness to respond to 
emerging events and are to continue performing routine security 
operations (vessel escorts, critical infrastructure patrols, and law 
enforcement aboard high-interest vessels), their ability to support 
local sectors in meeting operational activity goals may be diminished. 
[Footnote 14] 

- A reduction in MSST locations may also increase the potential for 
time and distance challenges when mobilizing and deploying forces for 
rapid response operations. 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Future of Advanced 
Interdiction Capabilities: 

The Coast Guard originally envisioned MSRT-type teams on the East, 
West, and Gulf Coasts. To date, the Coast Guard has established one 
East Coast team, which is dedicated to conducting high-risk law 
enforcement and counterterrorism operations nationwide.[Footnote 15] 

* In 2009, the Coast Guard developed a Concept of Operations document, 
which, according to officials, includes considerations to establish 
advanced interdiction capabilities in other U.S. regions. 

- Officials stated that the Concept of Operations is undergoing review 
within the Coast Guard but no established timeline exists, as it 
remains subject to continued discussion and input from interagency 
partners.[Footnote 16] 

* In contrast to units such as MSSTs, which are used routinely during 
daily operations, it is difficult to assess the need and requirements 
for an additional MSRT team because the unit is generally designed to 
respond to low probability but high consequence events. However, 
officials noted that MSRT personnel are also used as part of adaptive 
force packages, where applicable. For example, MSRT components have 
been deployed to help support U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Demand Likely Increasing, but 
Not Always Documented: 

Coast Guard Officials Cite Increase in Worldwide Demand for PSU, MSST, 
and TACLET/LEDET Capabilities: 

* In addition to the PSU team deployed in support of Operation Iraqi 
Freedom, a second PSU was requested by DOD Southern Command and 
deployed to meet security needs at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

- However, because PSUs are reserve units and typically cannot perform 
consecutive deployments, DOG officials are currently rotating MSST 
units to meet this ongoing demand. 

* Further, the Coast Guard may be required to activate additional PSU 
teams in response to global events, such as recent recovery operations 
in Haiti, for which a PSU team was recently deployed for 35 days. 

* According to officials, the existing eight PSUs have already been 
programmed and allocated through the next 6 years, and it will be 
difficult to meet any additional demand for these assets over this 
time period. 

Limited Capacity Makes It Difficult for LEDETs to Meet High 
Operational Tempo: 

* According to DOG officials, an average of 7 LEDETs are detailed to 
Navy vessels at any given time. 

- Collectively, the 17 LEDETs perform approximately 40 deployments per 
year, with each detachment averaging over 185 days away from its home 

- LEDET deployments since 2007 include (1) drug interdiction 
operations under DOD Southern Command; (2) Operation Iraqi Freedom 
activities under DOD Central Command; and (3) anti-piracy operations 
in the Gulf of Aden and the eastern coast of Somalia conducted as part 
of a multinational task force. 

* DOG officials reported that the high operational tempo for LEDETs 
can make it difficult to assemble a full, qualified team, particularly 
when illness or injury occurs. 

- For example, to meet minimum team readiness requirements, some LEDET 
members have served multiple consecutive deployments—impacting 
training and/or scheduled leave—and some LEDETs have been replaced 
with other DSF personnel. 

* Officials noted that the planned increase in the size of LEDETs in 
2011 should help mitigate this challenge. DOG officials also stated 
that they are working to increase the total number of LEDETs to help 
address the rise in demand for these units. 

Demand for DOG Resources Not Always Documented, and Deployment of 
Forces May Occur in Advance of the RFF Process: 

* DOG and DOD officials noted that some potential requests for forces 
are not documented through an RFF because they are outside the scope 
of normal operations or preliminary inquiries to the Coast Guard 
indicate that resources are not likely to be available. 

- For example, DOD officials noted that Coast Guard DSF units would be 
well suited to assist with security and other training with 
international partners, but they recognize that the DOG does not have 
the capacity to assume a much greater role at this time. 

- DOG officials stated that international assistance is likely an area 
of latent demand and they are awaiting development of a national 
policy to help determine their future role. 

* DOG officials also noted that DSF forces may be required to deploy 
with little or no notice in some cases, such as in supporting the U.S. 
Secret Service to protect the president, and may occur in advance of 
the RFF process. 

Objective 2: Challenges Facing the DOG: Impact of Force Readiness 
Command Still Unknown: 

* As previously noted, while FORCECOM has been established, it will 
not become fully operational without enactment of a legislative change 
proposal intended to realign senior leadership and organizational 

* As a result, the Coast Guard has reported that some role ambiguity 
currently exists due to the combination of both new and legacy 
organizational components operating concurrently. 

- For example, some personnel originally designated to FORCECOM have 
been temporarily reallocated to Pacific Area, and other FORCECOM staff 
are performing functions for both commands concurrently. According to 
a senior FORCECOM official, while staff are currently able to shift 
resources internally to meet changing demands, the situation is not 
sustainable. He stated that without the legislative changes, personnel 
will not be able to fully focus on FORCECOM duties as envisioned. 

* Despite some administrative challenges associated with the remaining 
two-Area structure, DOG officials reported that they have, and will 
retain, primary responsibility for managing and allocating DSF 
resources, even after the full implementation of FORCECOM. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Department of Homeland 
Security and the U.S. Coast Guard for review and comment. 

* The Department of Homeland Security provided no written comments. 

* The U.S. Coast Guard provided technical comments that have been 
incorporated into the report, as appropriate. 

[End of Enclosure I] 

Enclosure II: Deployable Specialized Forces: 

This enclosure provides additional information on the specific 
deployable specialized forces under the command of the Deployable 
Operations Group (DOG). The DOG is responsible for coordinating and 
executing all deployments of the Coast Guard's deployable specialized 
forces, which consist of five types of teams or units (see table 1). 

Table 1: The U.S. Coast Guard's Deployable Specialized Forces-- 
Component Teams and Unit Descriptions: 

Component teams or units (type, number, and locations): National 
Strike Force: 
* National Strike Force Coordination Center (Elizabeth City, North 
* Atlantic Strike Team (Fort Dix, New Jersey); 
* Gulf Strike Team (Mobile, Alabama); 
* Pacific Strike Team (Novato, California; 
Number of personnel[A]: 270; 
Unit description: First created in 1973, the National Strike Force is 
composed of a cadre of Coast Guard professionals--with incident-
management skills and specialized equipment--who deploy in response to 
oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents (i.e., biological, 
chemical, and radiological response); 
* Each Strike Team is comprised of approximately 80 personnel, of 
which about half are active duty personnel. The remainder includes a 
combination of reservists, auxiliarists, and civilians; 
* Members typically deploy for up to 21 days. If an incident extends 
beyond this period, additional responders are deployed to backfill 
positions. Responders deploy on average approximately 160 days per 
* The National Strike Force responded to a total of 21 oil spill 
incidents and 27 hazardous material release incidents in fiscal year 
2008, as reported by the National Strike Force Coordination Center. 

Component teams or units (type, number, and locations): Tactical Law 
Enforcement Teams (two teams): 
* Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team (San Diego, California); 
- Eight Law Enforcement Detachments; 
* Tactical Law Enforcement Team South (Miami, Florida); 
- Nine Law Enforcement Detachments; 
Number of personnel[A]: 204; 
Unit description: Tactical Law Enforcement Teams provide specialized 
law enforcement and maritime security capabilities to enforce U.S. 
laws across a spectrum of maritime missions, including drug 
interdiction and vessel interception operations; 
* The Coast Guard's two Tactical Law Enforcement Teams collectively 
are composed of 17 smaller units (Law Enforcement Detachments) whose 
average complement consists of 9 personnel with a range of 
capabilities--e.g., precision marksmen and law enforcement boarding 
* Tactical Law Enforcement Teams collectively perform around 40 
deployments per year, with each detachment averaging over 185 days 
away from its home base; 
* Teams typically conduct their primary mission (law enforcement) in 
the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Teams have also provided 
training to foreign naval, coast guard, and police forces in the 
Caribbean, Pacific Ocean, Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and 
the Middle East. More recently, Law Enforcement Detachments have been 
deployed to the Gulf of Aden and the eastern coast of Somalia as part 
of a multinational task force to suppress piracy.[C] 

Component teams or units (type, number, and locations): Port Security 
Units (eight units): 
* California (San Pedro); 
* California (San Francisco); 
* Florida (Tampa); 
* Massachusetts (Cape Cod); 
* Mississippi (Gulfport); 
* Ohio (Port Clinton); 
* Virginia (Fort Eustis); 
* Washington (Tacoma); 
Number of personnel[A]: 1,171; 
Unit description: Manned largely by Coast Guard reservists, Port 
Security Units conduct port operations, security, and defense in 
support of combatant commanders' operations worldwide. A primary 
mission of Port Security Units is to provide waterside protection to 
U.S. Navy vessels and other high-value assets, including pier areas 
and harbor entrances. Units are currently deployed to Kuwait Naval 
Base to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and in January 2010 were also 
activated to assist with U.S. operations in Haiti. According to the 
Coast Guard, Port Security Units: 
* are deployed as 117 person teams and have sufficient equipment to 
sustain operations for up to 30 days; and; 
* operate fast, highly maneuverable and armed transportable port 
security boats and have land-based security forces that complement 
waterborne operations, and protect unit personnel, equipment, and 
command and control facilities. 

Component teams or units (type, number, and locations): Maritime 
Safety and Security Teams (12 teams):[D] 
* Alaska (Anchorage); 
* California (San Diego); 
* California (San Francisco); 
* California (San Pedro); 
* Florida (Miami); 
* Georgia (Kings Bay); 
* Hawaii (Honolulu); 
* Louisiana (New Orleans); 
* Massachusetts (Boston); 
* New York (New York); 
* Texas (Galveston); 
* Washington (Seattle); 
Number of personnel[A]: 1,014; 
Unit description: Created under the Maritime Transportation Security 
Act of 2002, the Maritime Safety and Security Teams constitute a 
maritime security antiterrorism force. The teams are managed as 
national deployable assets responsible for safeguarding the public and 
protecting vessels, harbors, ports, facilities, and cargo in U.S. 
territorial waters; 
* The teams are to maintain readiness to deploy to events such as 
terrorist threats or incidents; storm recovery operations; 
and routinely deploy to national special security events such as the 
Super Bowl and the presidential inauguration. The teams also enforce 
security zones during transit of high-interest vessels and at other 
times when additional levels of security are needed within the 
nation's ports and waterways; 
* Among other capabilities, team elements include canines trained to 
search for explosives; divers trained for underwater detection; 
and remotely operated submersible vehicles equipped with cameras used 
for a variety of underwater applications. 

Component teams or units (type, number, and locations): Maritime 
Security Response Team (one team): 
* Virginia (Chesapeake); 
Number of personnel[A]: 225; 
Unit description: Charged with maintaining a high readiness posture 
365 days a year, the Maritime Security Response Team is the Coast 
Guard's advanced interdiction force for counterterrorism and higher 
risk law enforcement operations. The team provides a variety of 
advanced capabilities or skills, including addressing threats posed by 
weapons of mass destruction and vertically inserting from a helicopter 
to a ship's deck to engage potentially hostile personnel; 
* The Maritime Security Response Team, like other Coast Guard units, 
may be deployed unilaterally or as part of an interagency adaptive 
force package. 

Total personnel: 2884[E]. 

Source: U.S. Coast Guard. 

[A] Includes active, reserve, and civilian billets assigned to the 
units as of March 2010. Total does not include any fiscal year 2010 
billet additions that have not yet been staffed. 

[B] The National Strike Force Coordination Center (NSFCC) provides 
support and standardization guidance to the Atlantic Strike Team, the 
Gulf Strike Team, and the Pacific Strike Team. The NSFCC is also home 
to the Public Information Assist Team, which provides emergency public 
information services to federal on-scene coordinators primarily during 
oil spills and hazardous material releases. The NSFCC is responsible 
for and oversees the maintenance of functions mandated by the Oil 
Pollution Act of 1990 and is comprised of 18 active duty personnel, 3 
reservists, and 8 civilians. However, the Coast Guard's fiscal year 
2011 budget request proposes decommissioning the Coordination Center, 
eliminating 9 billets, and relocating the17 remaining billets between 
the Strike Teams, the Deployable Operations Group, and Coast Guard 

[C] In January 2009, the U.S. Central Command created Combined Task 
Force 151, an international coalition consisting of command personnel 
from the United States, Turkey, Singapore, Greece, Pakistan, and the 
United Kingdom. Its mission is to actively deter, disrupt, and 
suppress piracy in order to protect global maritime security and 
secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of all nations. 

[D] The Coast Guard's fiscal year 2011 budget request proposes the 
disestablishment of five Maritime Safety and Security Teams, and the 
reallocation of some of these billets to Tactical Law Enforcement 

[E] The Deployable Operations Group also oversees and manages 49 Coast 
Guard reserve personnel who are assigned to work within three U.S. 
Navy components: Naval Expeditionary Combatant Commander; Maritime 
Expeditionary Security Groups; and Maritime Security Squadrons. 

[End of table] 

[End of Enclosure II] 

Enclosure III: Related GAO Products: 

Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget and Related 
Performance and Management Challenges. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: February 
25, 2010. 

Coast Guard: Service Has Taken Steps to Address Historic Personnel 
Problems, but It Is too Soon to Assess the Impact of These Efforts. 
[hyperlink,]. Washington, 
D.C.: January 29, 2010. 

Coast Guard: Observations on the Genesis and Progress of the Service's 
Modernization Program. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: June 24, 

Maritime Security: National Strategy and Supporting Plans Were 
Generally Well-Developed and Are Being Implemented. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: June 20, 

Maritime Security: Coast Guard Inspections Identify and Correct 
Facility Deficiencies, but More Analysis Needed of Program's Staffing, 
Practices, and Data. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: Feb. 14, 

Maritime Security: Federal Efforts Needed to Address Challenges in 
Preventing and Responding to Terrorist Attacks on Energy Commodity 
Tankers. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: Dec. 10, 2007. 

Maritime Security: The SAFE Port Act: Status and Implementation One 
Year Later. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: Oct. 30, 2007. 

Maritime Security: Information on Port Security in the Caribbean 
Basin. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: June 29, 2007. 

Coast Guard: Observations on the Preparation, Response, and Recovery 
Missions Related to Hurricane Katrina. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: July 31, 

Maritime Security: Information Sharing Efforts Are Improving. 
[hyperlink,]. Washington, 
D.C.: July 10, 2006. 

Risk Management: Further Refinements Needed to Assess Risks and 
Prioritize Protective Measures at Ports and Other Critical 
Infrastructure. [hyperlink,]. 
Washington, D.C.: Dec. 15, 2005. 

Maritime Security: Enhancements Made, but Implementation and 
Sustainability Remain Key Challenges. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: May 17, 

Maritime Security: Better Planning Needed to Help Ensure an Effective 
Port Security Assessment Program. [hyperlink,]. Washington, D.C.: Sept. 30, 

[End of Enclosure III] 


[1] H. Comm. on Appropriations, 110th Cong., Committee Print on H.R. 
2764/Public Law 110-161 at 1059 (2008), and S. Rep. No. 110-84, at 69- 
70 (2007). 

[2] In 2009, we completed an assessment of the Coast Guard's overall 
modernization program. See GAO, Coast Guard: Observations on the 
Genesis and Progress of the Service's Modernization Program, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C., June 24, 2009). 

[3] See enclosure II for further details on the deployable specialized 

[4] A related entity, the National Strike Force Coordination Center, 
provides support and standardization guidance to the three strike 

[5] H. Comm. on Appropriations, 110th Cong., Committee Print on H.R. 
2764/Public Law 110-161 at 1059 (2008), and S. Rep. No. 110-84, at 69-
70 (2007). 

[6] Field locations were selected based on the availability of units 
during the time frames of our planned visits. In addition, the 
proximity of several different units in these locations provided an 
opportunity to maximize travel resources. 

[7] This initiative proposes decommissioning existing MSST teams in 
New York; Anchorage; San Francisco; New Orleans; and Kings Bay, 

[8] However, Strike Team units do conduct personal interviews to 
assess suitability for assignment to those billets. 

[9] The Coast Guard's personnel manual outlines basic qualifications 
necessary for enlisted personnel to be assigned to these positions. 

[10] Coast Guard officials noted that this issue is not unique to DOG 
assignments and occurs servicewide. 

[11] Officials noted that the proposed reallocation of two H-60 
helicopters from Elizabeth City to the Great Lakes region will impact 
the Coast Guard's ability to train qualified pilots required to 
perform vertical insertion operations and conduct training for MSRT 
and other DSF units. 

[12] The Conference Report (H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 111-298, at 84 (2009)) 
accompanying the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 
2010, (Pub. L No. 111-83, 123 Stat. 2142 (2009)) contained direction 
by the Conferees authorizing additional funding to enhance Coast Guard 
counternarcotics enforcement efforts that was used to increase the 
number of personnel on each LEDET from 9 to 11. According to 
officials, as of March 2010, this change was in the process of being 

[13] The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General 
is conducting a review of the MSSTs which is to address the decision 
process used to form the teams and select initial locations, among 
other objectives. 

[14] MSST units on the west coast are currently allocated to local 
sectors up to 10 days per month, and routinely assist them in meeting 
designated targets for monthly sector security activities. 

[15] Lacking a dedicated MSRT team on the West Coast, Pacific Area 
developed a rotating team of MSST personnel to provide enhanced 
readiness for potential interdiction and antiterrorism activities. The 
team serves on a 2-week rotation schedule. 

[16] Officials noted that some options addressing expanded advanced 
interdiction capabilities were guided by language and principles set 
forth in the DOD Contingency Plan 7500-—a classified document of plans 
to address the Global War on Terror. 

[End of section] 

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