SEMPER PARATUS : THE U.S.
COAST GUARD’S FLOTILLA 10
AT OMAHA BEACH
Mark A. Snell
The United States Coast Guard, which can trace its founding to 1790, is the nation’s oldest continuous maritime service. The Coast Guard and its predecessors have participated in every war since 1790, including the wars against Saddam Hussein. Yet in 2003, the Coast Guard came under attack by the secretary of defense. A Washington Post article appearing on August 31, 2003, claimed, “Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has all but decided to remove the U.S. Coast Guard from participation in future wars, a prospect that is devastating morale in the maritime service because of its pride at having taken part in most of the nation’s armed conflicts over the past 200 years, defense sources said.” Continuing, the article alleged that
In recent months Rumsfeld, who is considering a number of radical
changes in the organization and structure of the U.S. armed forces, has
written several increasingly harsh memos raising questions about the
Coast Guard’s role in wars, officials said. Rumsfeld has expressed dis-
satisfaction with the fact that last year, when the Pentagon asked
whether the Coast Guard could send cutters to the Persian Gulf to pro-
tect Navy ships, Coast Guard officials declined, citing budget pressures.
… Rumsfeld has also noted that the Coast Guard has its hands full
attending to its homeland security mission along U.S. coastlines, water-
ways and harbors.1
During the Second World War, the U.S. Coast Guard also had “its hands full” with homeland security, yet its contributions to overseas military operations were extremely valuable, especially the role that it played in amphibious operations. In fact, one of the bloodiest days in U.S. Coast