The U.S. Coast Guard has been taking on an increasing role in national defense, so now there’s a move on Capitol Hill to have its commandant be a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Rep. Charlie Crist, Florida Democrat, and Rep. Steven Palazzo, Mississippi Republican, have introduced legislation that would add the commandant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with the other service chiefs and the four-star head of the National Guard Bureau.
“While the U.S. Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, its work with the Pentagon is constantly growing,” said Mr. Palazzo. “The Coast Guard plays a very important role in our national defense strategy and it is past time they have an equal role when it comes to advising the president, the secretary of defense and the National Security Council.”
Maritime security is national security, Adm. Karl Schultz, Commandant of the Coast Guard, said on March 11 during his annual State of the Coast Guard address.
“The demand for Coast Guard capabilities is increasing both domestically and in support of [Department of Defense] combatant commanders and American embassies around the world,” he said.
Like the other U.S. military services, the Coast Guard is focusing more attention on the Indo-Pacific region — and China in particular. “We’re doubling down with operations and engagements with like-minded nations,” Adm. Schultz said.
Adding the Coast Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff will “reinforce the value” of the service to the nation’s defense and bring it more in line with the rest of the armed forces, said Mr. Crist.
On Tuesday, a spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the “pending legislation.”