Proceedings Of The Marine

FALL 2011

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Search and Rescue International Engagement Positive relationships leverage SAR power. by MR. DAVID L. EDWARDS 8 6 &RDVW *XDUG 2IÀFH RI 6HDUFK DQG 5HVFXH A crafty U.S. politician once said, "All politics is local." This can hold true for modern-day search and rescue, DV ZHOO ³ GHSHQGLQJ RQ KRZ RQH GHÀQHV ´ORFDO µ )RU example, the U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue (or SAR) system serves millions of recreational boaters, hundreds of thousands of general aviation pilots, WKRXVDQGV RI ÀVKLQJ YHVVHOV DQG WHQV RI WKRXVDQGV of merchant vessels on or over our waters. Additionally, millions of U.S. citizens travel around the globe on business or vacation. While we have an excellent SAR system in the United States — a safety net that our citizens may take for granted — many countries do not provide adequate SAR response. SAR is an indicator of a developed country. Many countries continue to seek out the U.S. Coast Guard to provide advice and assistance on how to better pro- vide SAR services. This does not mean we have to do all the work. Actually, most countries want to learn how to provide search and rescue services as part of a wider SAR community effort. So our "local" SAR subject matter expertise can have an effect far from our shores. International Engagement as Soft Power The Coast Guard is recognized as a unique instru- ment of U.S. foreign policy by virtue of its law enforce- ment, military, maritime, and multi-mission character as well as its broad statutory authorities, decentral- ized command and control structure, and more than 200 years of operational sea-going experience. Sharing our SAR expertise allows us to interact very positively with our global neighbors. In this manner, 6 Proceedings Fall 2011 "soft" power (as opposed to military or "hard" power) can win friends abroad as well as sustain support at home. SAR discussions often illustrate the need to have a whole-of-government effort, as compared to the sometimes rough inner workings among civil and military authorities or maritime and aeronautical authorities. SAR engagement is a blend of tactical (operational) and strategic expertise, which should be customized to meet the need of the other state. For example, even though our primary guidance comes from the Inter- national Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, we often make use of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, since many more countries are obli- gated to follow the civil aviation convention, and it covers land and sea. Also, depending on how agencies within that for- eign country view international law, we often use the SAR cites within the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the United Nations Conven- tion on the Law of the Sea. If nothing else, discussion on these conventions sets a tone and understanding of the rule of law. In addition, Coast Guard SAR dis- cussions typically advance international adoption of U.S. principles, policies, and practices. On the "local" level, Coast Guard joint rescue coordi- nation centers live this every day through their inter- actions with neighboring countries as well as remote regions where no one else may be coordinating a basic SAR response.1 We certainly also gain from interna- www.uscg.mil/proceedings International

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