What is the Coast Guard?
A coast guard unit is a national organization, which is responsible for administering various services at sea. The majority of developed nations possess a fully-funded and operation Coast Guard unit; however, the term implies a wide array of responsibilities. For instance, in some countries the Coast Guard takes the form of a heavily-armed military force responsible for exercising various security duties, whereas in other countries the unit is simply a volunteer organization responsible for conducting search and rescue missions without the ability to enforce any legality principles.
In the United States of America, the Coast Guard is both a military and a law enforcement service. The United States Coast Guard is one of the seven components of the uniformed services of the United States and of the five principle elements of the United States armed forces. The United States Coast Guard’s roles primarily include the enforcement of US law, conducting search and rescue missions, and administering coastal defense mechanisms.
During times of peace, the United States Coast Guard falls under the administration of the United States Department of Homeland Security. During wartime; however, the United States Coast Guard may (according to the will of the President) reports to the Secretary of the Navy. That being said, the units resources are integrated into the United States military operations.
The United States Coast Guard maintains a diverse and extensive fleet of coastal and ocean-going patrol ships, as well as an extensive aviation division consisting of helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts. Helicopters in the United States coastguard are equipped with hoists to rescue those in need. Additionally, the United States coast guard plays a fundamental role in law enforcement—the United States Coast Guard helicopters are indispensable tools in fighting illegal drug trafficking rings and control the influx of illegal migrants. The fixed wing aircrafts present in the Coast Guard are typically used for long range search and rescue as well as law enforcement patrols.
Military Law vs. Federal Law
The United States Department of Defense operates under Federal Law as per the guidelines expressed within the disbursement of a triune governmental oversight system, which allows for the United States Coast Guard to exist under the jurisdiction of the Executive branch of the government; this results in the appointment of the President of the United States as the Commander in Chief of the entirety of the Armed Forces. However, Military Law – a legal field classified as a subgenre of Federal Law – typically addresses the activity and behavior of military personnel; this can include:
Absent Without Leave (AWOL): The unlawful desertion of a service member with regard to their respective commitment to the United States Coast Guard; individuals deemed to have abandoned positions may be tried by military court and subsequently court martialed.
Martial Law: Martial Law is the instatement of Military rule over specific jurisdictions within a country or nation; in many cases with regard to the implementation of heightened security measures, the United States Coast Guard may be appointed in the event that the acting body of civil law enforcement is unable to maintain sufficient order.
Judge Advocate General (JAG Corps): The JAG Corps – or Judge Advocate General Corps – are classified as the acting legal body within the United states Coast Guard. JAG Corps not only oversee the court martial process, but also are responsible for upholding the maintenance of the protocols and parameters expressed within the UCMJ; in many cases, the legal issues addressed by the acting JAG Corps are specific – these include: war crimes, treason, sedition, refusal to obey orders, undue violence, and offenses directed against military personnel.