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As a nation of travelers and traders, America has a strategic interest in the maritime domain. (191) The oceans bordering North America are both a barrier and a highway, separating the United States from potential enemies, connecting it to allies, and providing a venue for commerce and trade. 192 Due to its complex nature and immense size, the maritime domain is recognized as particularly susceptible to exploitation and disruption by individuals, organizations, and States. (193)
The USCG is a military, multi-mission, maritime service that is the "principal Federal agency responsible for safety, security, and stewardship within the maritime domain. (194) These missions are performed in any maritime region where those interests may be at risk, including international waters and America's coasts, ports, and inland waterways. (195) In March 2003, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act, the USCG was transferred from the Department of Transportation to DHS. (196)
The USCG has several diverse missions--national defense, homeland security, maritime safety, and environmental and natural resources stewardship. (197) To accomplish these missions, the USCG has authorities unique within the Federal government. It is both an armed service'" and the nation's primary maritime law enforcement agency. (199)
Maritime Domain Awareness
One of the Administration's maritime security planning assumptions is that today's complex and ambiguous threats place an even greater premium on knowledge and shared understanding of the maritime domain. (200) This knowledge and shared understanding is termed "maritime domain awareness" and is defined as "the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States." (201) Since it grants time and distance to detect, deter, …