U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist, D-Fla., and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., have introduced legislation to promote the commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The JCS includes the most senior uniformed officers within the Department of Defense and advises the president, secretary of defense, and the Homeland and National Security Councils on all military matters. Currently, JCS includes six military service chiefs – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Space Force. Despite also being a military service and having the same rank and privileges as other armed services, the commandant of the Coast Guard is only considered a de facto member of the Joint Chiefs, potentially leaving out the Coast Guard’s unique perspective on national security concerns.
“The Coast Guard plays a key role in keeping our nation safe, making the service more than worthy of a seat at the Joint Chiefs of Staff table,” said Rep. Crist. “Including the Coast Guard commandant as a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs will reinforce the value of the Coast Guard to our national defense, bring the Coast Guard in line with other military services, and elevate the Coast Guard’s role in Florida and across the globe.”
“Unlike the other U.S. service branches, under current law, the Coast Guard does not have an official seat at the table as a Joint Chief. While the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, its work with the Pentagon is constantly growing,” said Rep. Palazzo. “The Coast Guard plays a very important role in our National Defense Strategy and it is past time they have an equal role when it comes to advising the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council.”
The Coast Guard is playing an increasingly important role in our national defense from countering China, to protecting national security in the Arctic, to preventing illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The bill reinforces the value of the Coast Guard’s role in our national security by promoting the commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing parity with the other branches of the Armed Forces.