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Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions

Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions

Released last month, a prepublication copy of "Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions" is available from the National Academies Press.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently issued a prepublication copy of Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions: A Strategic Imperative.  

Available via National Academies Press, the Executive Summary states, in part,

As one of the country’s six military services, the Coast Guard also serves as a first responder, law enforcement agency, maritime regulator, and member of the intelligence community.  The Service is currently sponsoring multiple initiatives to assess the applicability of UxSs to these mission areas and to introduce their capabilities into the fleet and force structure.  To date, however, the initiatives have been characterized by limited funding spread over many years and the absence of a formal means, or a pacing mechanism, for proactively identifying, investigating, and integrating promising systems.  In the meantime, technological advancements in UxSs continue to accelerate, driven by commercial and military demands and interests.  A major realignment of the Coast Guard’s UxS approach is warranted.  After reviewing the Coast Guard’s many important, complex, varied, and demanding missions; observing that its fleet and operational forces are being increasingly taxed; finding that a variety of UxSs are being used today with high utility across the public and private sectors; and knowing that the technologies that enable and underpin these systems are rapidly advancing, the committee is struck by the magnitude and breadth of opportunity that lies ahead for the Coast Guard to pursue UxSs across its multiple operational domains and missions.  As other military services and other operational agencies of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) integrate UxSs into their force structures, the Coast Guard will be impelled to do the same, because it engages in joint and combined operations and missions with these partners.

Abundant evidence in this report points to both a compelling need and burgeoning opportunities for the Coast Guard to proceed more aggressively, albeit strategically and deliberately, in leveraging UxS advancements.  Indeed, the study committee concludes that to remain responsive and fully relevant to its many missions, it is imperative that the Coast Guard take a more strategic and accelerated approach to exploit the capabilities of existing and future unmanned systems. 

In the vein of the TRB's report, the USCG Research and Development (R&D) Center began engaging the Naval Research Program, administered by the Naval Postgraduate School, several years ago to advance collaborative research, development, and deployment of autonomous systems and other technologies.  Since then, the USCG R&D Center started collaborating with The Sea Land Air Military Research initiative and its efforts to Evolve the Digital Enterprise Nationally by accelerating discovery and engagement across the national R&D ecosystem.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Leveraging Unmanned Systems for Coast Guard Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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