American Forces Press Service

Coast Guardsman Sees Increased Emphasis on Homeland Security

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2003 -- Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Lynn Fabbo said she's watched her service undergo an exciting sea change with its increased focus on homeland security.

At the unit level, Fabbo, a training petty officer at Coast Guard Training Center, Cape May, N.J., said the Coast Guard's transfer from the Department of Transportation to the new Department of Homeland Security has been almost seamless. Much more dramatic, she said, has been a change in the types of missions Coast Guard members now perform on a regular basis.

In addition to conducting search and rescue, drug interdiction and other law enforcement missions, as well as the lower-profile buoy-tending and recreational boating safety missions, Fabbo said Coast Guard members now regularly monitor "high-interest vessels" that pose potential national security threats due to their cargo or the personnel on board.

Nearly all Coast Guard members, she said, conduct coastline and harbor security patrols with extra attention to large commercial carriers, including cruise ships, entering and departing U.S. ports. The Coast Guard either sends a boarding party to these ships or escorts them into port.

Fabbo said the Coast Guard has stepped up its force protection role, escorting more aircraft carriers, submarines and other military vessels operating within U.S. waters. While serving as executive petty officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter MAKO, she helped escort the USNS Comfort from its home port in Baltimore and down the Chesapeake Bay when it departed in January for the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

She and her shipmates also enforced security zones around military vessels in North Carolina and Virginia as munitions were loaded and service members boarded for deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. They also accelerated their security patrols in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia during high-threat periods.

"Since 9-11, there's been a big increase in the number of these missions we do," she said. "If nothing exciting happens along the way, then it means we did our job right."

Fabbo said the increase in homeland security missions "makes our work more diverse than ever, and that's really exciting to the new people coming into the service. It's one more thing we do that you can really feel good about and know that you're making a difference."

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