Study on U.S Coast Guard’s Ability to Meet Near Future Challenges Led by CHDS/NPS Prof. Nieto-Gomez

A forward-looking study and report on the U.S. Coast Guard’s major challenges and legal authority to address them over the next decade has a direct link to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Prof. Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez

CHDS National Security Affairs Department and Naval Postgraduate School research Prof. Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez served on a committee that led the study of the U.S. Coast Guard’s immediate future over the next 10 years and a subsequent report. 

Entitled “The Coast Guard’s Next Decade: An Assessment of Emerging Challenges and Statutory needs,” the report was released by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) last summer. The report focuses on the statutory authority the U.S. Coast Guard needs to confront a number of major challenges in the next decade. 

The study committee including Nieto-Gomez identified 10 major developments impacting the maritime domain and posing new or increased challenges to the U.S. Coast Guard over the next decade, including the growth of offshore wind energy, aquaculture, alternative fuel and autonomous vessels, and increasing cybersecurity risks related to commercial space flight operations in and beyond U.S. territorial waters, as well as continuing challenges posed by illegal and unregulated fishing, disasters, and migration. 

Nieto Gomez said he has long been interested in the U.S. Coast Guard and called it an institution at the nexus of homeland security and defense, noting that it performs a variety of homeland security-related duties and functions as an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, while also serving as a member of the military but not within the Department of Defense.

He said the committee’s work, especially on critical legal authorities issues, turned out to be a very complex topic that took a lot of time and effort over about a year and a half to complete.

Nieto-Gomez noted the report found that the U.S. Coast Guard likely has most of the statutory authorities needed to handle future challenges but changes may be needed, while indicating the institution definitely requires additional resources to complete its mission. He added he hopes the report sparks a continuing conversation and Congressional attention regarding the legal underpinnings and access to resources that will help determine its future.

Last summer, the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation conducted a hearing on the NASEM report.

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