Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Senior Guidance Team—improving the unity of effort within DHS

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by Captain Anthony (Tony) Regalbuto (USCG, Retired), Chief, Office of International and Domestic Assessments, and Mr. Michael Perron, Acting Associate Director for Deliberate Planning, Customs and Border Protection.

In June 2006, ADM Thad Allen, then Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and Mr. Ralph Basham, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), chartered a senior guidance team (SGT) represented by flag officers and senior executives from both agencies to improve our near- and long-term efficiency and effectiveness.

Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard have played significant roles but throughout our nation’s history. However, the threats of asymmetrical attacks have provided greater visibility to our agencies and more focus on and scrutiny of our missions. As ADM Allen has said in numerous forums following the September 11 terrorist attacks, “We (the Coast Guard) have never been more relevant, and we have never been more visible to the nation we serve.”

Clearly, the same could be said for Customs and Border Protection. Therefore it is incumbent upon CBP and the USCG to work efficiently and effectively to better prepare our nation to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other incidents of national significance.

Initial Focus
In one of the first meetings of the senior guidance team, the leaders highlighted that there were three things that Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard needed to focus on, namely:

1. We need to better understand our dramatically changed operating environment.
2. We must change to sustain and improve our mission execution.
3. We must be more responsive to the needs of the nation.

As co-chairs for their respective agencies, Mr. Jayson Ahern, CBP Deputy Commissioner, and VADM David Pekoske, then USCG Deputy Commandant for Operations, quickly established ground rules for the senior guidance team. They agreed to meet quarterly and to form joint working groups to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agency operations.

Initially the co-chairs formed work groups in:
· small vessel strategy to better address the small vessel threat;
· joint operation centers to improve command and control and information sharing;
· joint boardings for better mission execution;
· resumption of trade so the nation could recover from any hazard including terrorist attacks and hurricanes.

Ongoing Strategy
Building on the successes of the initial work, the co-chairs recently formed additional workgroups in:
· joint unmanned aircraft to build capability for DHS and its component agencies;
· joint training to improve the interoperability of agency assets;
· joint vessel targeting to ensure the highest-risk targets are intercepted, interrogated, and apprehended or neutralized, if necessary;
· joint logistics to improve the support to our people and assets at a reduced cost;
· joint budget development to better source the agencies based upon a joint strategy;
· joint specialized forces to improve interoperability of specialized forces in response to a hazard.

In January 2008 the co-chairs invited Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the senior guidance team meeting. Since then, ICE has been an active participant in the quarterly meetings and has gained valuable insight in the workgroup initiatives to date.

Photo caption:
Team members from a joint dockside boarding and investigation that included the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and Puerto Rico Police Department inspect a void aboard a motor vessel where more than 2,000 lbs. of cocaine was hidden.

For more information:
Full article and “Interagency Success Stories” edition of USCG Proceedings is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/spring2009.

Subscribe online at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/subscribe.asp.

Direct requests for print copies of this edition to: HQS-DG-NMCProceedings@uscg.mil.