If things weren’t already tense enough in the Middle East, a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat got into an altercation Tuesday with an Iranian sailboat in the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon announced.
U.S. military officials said the trouble started when the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy, which regularly patrols international waters in the Gulf, approached an Iranian dhow, a traditional sailing vessel used by fisherman and traders. According to the U.S. account, the cutter dispatched a smaller boat with some folks on board, apparently to try to get closer to the dhow and possibly climb aboard.
The dhow was less than friendly, however; its crew pointed a machine gun at the visiting party. In response, the Monomoy fired a warning shot, which apparently had its desired effect. The dhow sailed off, the cutter retrieved its personnel from the small boat and went its own way.
A huge percentage of the “naval” missions our nation undertakes worldwide can be (and quite often are) executed by relatively small, lightly armed ships such as USCGC Monomoy. Surface surveillance, Visit, Board, Search & Seizure (VBSS) mission, anti-piracy and smuggling, Search and Rescue, and simply providing presence in forward areas.
The Coast Guard gets a tiny fraction of the defense budget. They make the Marines look profligate. And in return, they provide a capability and response all out of proportion to the dollars spent.