The head of the US Coast Guard said that its ships will conduct more activities in the Indo-Pacific to contest China’s territorial claims. The branch will attempt to increase its joint operations with other nations in the region as well.
Adm. Linda Fagan, the commandant of the Coast Guard, said in an interview with Nikkei Asia published on Monday, “The Indo-Pacific is clearly a consequential region for America’s future. The United States Indo-Pacific Strategy identifies an expanded role for the Coast Guard as a top Administration priority as we seek to ensure a region that is free and open.””
Vowing to expand operations, the admiral stated, “The Coast Guard will continue its long history of operational presence in the [Indo-Pacific] region with additional cutter patrols and deployable specialized forces.”
Amidst the massive American military buildup in the region, the Coast Guard will seek to expand its presence and may have an easier time establishing ties with nations reluctant to engage directly with the Navy. The Coast Guard is intended to be a law enforcement organization, although it is a branch of the Pentagon, and its ships are armed.
Fagan continued, “The Coast Guard is increasing capacity-building efforts across the Indo-Pacific region and will deploy resources to Southeast Asia and Oceania for security cooperation and humanitarian and capacity-building activities,” adding that “No single country or agency can alone tackle the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific.”
Coast Guard ships will likely be deployed to confront Chinese vessels, including civilian fishing ships, in international waters or territory claimed by Beijing. The branch claims its operations are intended to enforce international fishing ordinances and other laws.
For several years, Washington has spent billions to bolster its military presence in the Indo-Pacific to confront Beijing. Part of the US strategy includes courting regional countries into the American orbit by backing their competing territorial claims with China.