The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy have been and will remain complementary. They are not competitors. However, the distinctiveness of their missions and functions, in practice their duties overlap. There is a zone of activity wherein the services share maritime geography and foci of concern. Because the Coast Guard operates shallow-draft warships, it can be misrepresented as the coastal or shallow-water navy of the United States. Similarly, because the Navy supports the Coast Guard when necessary and feasible, perception of naval enthusiasm for such support (and beyond) can feed ill-founded anxiety that the Coast Guard is in peril of imperial absorption by the much larger service. This article is propelled by the appreciation that even through the Coast Guard and the Navy are natural and necessary allies, trends exist today--both internal to each service and, even more, in their contexts of operation--that could strain their relationship.
Naval War College Review (Summer 2001), v.54 no.3, p.112-137