Aiming to become the nation’s lead maritime tactical response force, these Coast Guardsmen — members of the service’s new Deployable Operations Group (DOG) — are about as close to special operations-capable as the Coast Guard gets.
The DOG formally became a Coast Guard unit July 20 in a sunset ceremony in Washington.
“We have specialized forces that conduct the high-end portions of our missions,” said Rear Adm. Tom Atkin, the DOG’s fist commander. “Could we say some of these capabilities are similar skill sets as special forces in [the Defense Department]? Definitely.”
Like the Defense Department armed services’ special operations commands, the DOG draws together the Coast Guard’s elite teams — those that handle anti-terrorism response, environmental disasters, port security and combat operations in the maritime milieu, according to service officials.
Its command cadre will oversee the Coast Guard’s response to operational contingencies both at home and overseas. Past events that have relied on DOG legacy units include the space shuttle Columbia disaster, port security of Umm Quasr, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the response to the Palermo Senator, a vessel that carried radioactive cargo — later found to be harmless roofing tiles — into the port of Newark, N.J.
The new command is necessary, officials say, to streamline the Coast Guard’s — and the nation’s — response to disasters, whether they be natural or man-made.
“During Hurricane Katrina, we performed admirably,” Atkin said. “But response was a little more ad hoc than it needed to be. We weren’t always 100 percent sure of each other’s [tactics, techniques and procedures]. If we’d had the doctrine and the force package in place, we would have been even more effective.”
Units now under DOG command, including the Coast Guard’s 13 maritime safety and security teams, National Strike Force environmental hazards unit, a Chesapeake, Va.-based maritime security response team, Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Coast Guard members and the service’s tactical law enforcement teams, will remain at their current locations.
Landing the Big One
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Reported here, the rise of the "DOG":