Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Out in the open: CG to take DC homeland security air guard

Originally uploaded by jimfrazier.
I'd heard about this a while back. Seems it's public now. Brock N. Meeks of MSNBC reports,
The Coast Guard has been tapped to play a major role in protecting the airspace surrounding the nation’s capital, MSNBC.com has learned. The move would replace the civilian Customs and Border Protection aircraft currently flying the mission, and allows for a more streamlined military chain of command in the event an aircraft needed to be shot down.

The decision became official Nov. 3 in a memo signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Upon review of the Air Intercept mission requirements as determined by the [Department of Defense], and based on its DoD relationships and command and control systems, I decided that the U.S. Coast Guard is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security to perform this mission going forward,” Chertoff said in the memo to Adm. Thomas Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard.

Although the Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security's authority, it is a military organization and as such, follows the same command and control and operational protocols as other military units.
All the conversations I've heard ask how we're going to do this. Brock reports,
Although the decision to give the Coast Guard the air security role has been made, when it actually takes formal control of the mission isn’t known. The Coast Guard now has 30 days to come up with a blueprint, including a budget, of how it intends to carry out the mission.
It will be the usual: no money, no additional personnel, do more with less.

Let's see, if it takes three birds and a host of pilots and crew to maintain a bird ready to launch in 30 minutes, and this requirement might ask for a launch within, say, 5 minutes, how many birds and crew will it take?

I've seen air stations not have a ready bird when they have three frames. How many frames does it take to guarantee 100% coverage and a five minute launch window?

We'll do it, of course. 'Cause we always do.


  1. Well, we can start pulling out some HH-65 airframes out of storage and put them back in to service.

    Strip them of all the rescue gear, and arm them up.

    Remember to lead the target!

  2. I'm confused. Does this mean, like, shooting down hijacked jetliners and whatnot? If so, does the CG has the resources to do so?

  3. Hmmm, I'm not sure that's something that can be answered here... We do have a track record at being able to launch quickly; we do have a record of getting on scene quickly... I'm not sure we have air-to-air weapons capabilities...

    Remember the case sometime after 9/11 when the kid stole the single engine plane down in Florida somewhere. The CG launched and was able to id the plane and attempted to get him to turn away before he flew it into a downtown office tower...

    I'd guess that's the capabilities DHS is after with the CG...