Thursday, February 17, 2011

Maritime Domain Awareness—Knowledge Is Good

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Mr. Dana Goward, Director, U.S. Coast Guard Marine Transportation Systems Management; and Mr. Curt Dubay, U.S. Coast Guard Director of Maritime Domain Awareness Program Integration.

In the movie “Animal House,” the film opens with a shot of the college’s motto: “Knowledge Is Good,” which is a great summary of maritime domain awareness (MDA).

As the Department of Homeland Security’s lead federal agency protecting the U.S. maritime domain and our marine transportation system, awareness is essential to all the U.S. Coast Guard does. Enhancing MDA reduces risk and facilitates collaboration.

Your Contribution to MDA
Why is contributing to maritime domain awareness important to the Proceedings reader? Enforcement authorities—the Coast Guard and all local, state, federal, and international agencies—need to know whether laws and regulations are being followed, and, if not, how to deploy their resources to enforce them.

MDA is equally important because:
  • Transparency leads to self-correcting behavior. It is a rule of human nature that people will behave better if they know there is a chance someone is watching.
  • It helps level the playing field. Those who play by the rules are rewarded, and they are encouraged to identify to authorities those who are not.
  • Scarce enforcement assets can be focused on response rather than patrol. Effective awareness can provide a virtual presence and deterrence at a fraction of the cost of fielding boats or enforcement personnel.

Awareness Network
Even more importantly, maritime domain awareness is the key to countering our biggest challenge—maritime criminal and terrorist networks. Because they are organized as networks, they are incredibly effective in thwarting the efforts of hierarchies such as governments. Fortunately, governments can effectively combat networks if they also operate as networks.

Shared awareness allows the local fish and wildlife officer, the national intelligence analyst, and everyone in between to bring their own experiences, capabilities, and authorities together in a widely distributed but unified effort. The general public can also join in a network for maritime good by identifying suspicious behavior and helping to counter illegal activity.

In upcoming posts we will feature a cross-section of articles that cover the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and our partners to transform maritime domain awareness through a whole-government approach to policy, capabilities, and technology led by the newly formed National MDA Coordination Office.

For more information:
The Maritime Domain Awareness Information Exchange:

The National Maritime Domain Awareness Coordination Office:

Full article is available at

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