The United States Coast Guard is a military, multi-mission, maritime service within the United States Department of Homeland Security and one of the United States's five armed services. Its core roles are to protect the public, the environment, and U.S. economic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk, including international waters and the U.S.'s coasts, ports, and inland waterways. The Coast Guard provides unique benefits to the nation because of its distinctive blend of military, humanitarian, and civilian law enforcement capabilities. To assist in accomplishing the many diverse missions of the Coast Guard, senior leadership and operational commanders rely on Coast Guard Intelligence.
Coast Guard intelligence came into existence in 1915 by the assignment of a "Chief Intelligence Officer" in Headquarters. Article 304 in the first set of Coast Guard Regulations provided for the establishment of a Chief Intelligence Officer who was to be attached to the Office of Assistant Commandant. The Chief Intelligence Officer's duties were spelled out in Article 614 of those same Regulations: "securing of information which is essential to the Coast Guard in carrying out its duties; for the dissemination of this information to responsible officers, operating units of the Coast Guard, the Treasury Department and other collaborating agencies; and the maintenance of adequate files and records of law enforcement activities."
The office was relatively unknown until the enactment of the Prohibition Act when CGI grew to a cadre of 45 investigators. CGI was extremely successful during prohibition and an Intelligence Division was established at Headquarters in 1930, followed by district intelligence offices in 1933.
During World War II, CGI was concerned with internal and domestic intelligence and counterintelligence. It was charged with conducting all necessary investigation of Coast Guard personnel, and all applicants for positions therein, as well as investigations of applicants for merchant marine documentation. Further, Coast Guard Intelligence was charged with conducting investigations in connection with the Coast Guard's regulatory functions, except Marine Inspection Regulations.
The modern Coast Guard Intelligence program has cultivated extensive relationships and partnerships with other elements of the Intelligence Community to provide timely, tailored support in a wide range of Coast Guard and national missions. These missions include port security, search and rescue, maritime safety, counter-narcotics, alien migration interdiction, and living marine resources protection.
The Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Criminal Investigations is James F. Sloan, who assumed the duties on November 17, 2003. He is responsibie for directing, coordinating, and overseeing intelligence and investigative operations and activities that support all Coast Guard mission objectives, the National Strategy for Homeland Security, and National Security objectives. Mr. Sloan was previously the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
In 1948, CGI became the primary investigative arm of the service. This mandate for an "investigative service" required that special agents conduct criminal, counterintelligence and personnel security investigations within the Coast Guard's area of responsibility. The majority of these investigations involved those criminal offenses which are in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
In 1996, in compliance with the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, the Coast Guard reorganized all criminal investigative and protective-services functions into the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). The centralization of CGIS meant reorganization from the top down. Special agents now worked for a regional Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC). The SACs were located in seven regional offices in Boston, Portsmouth, Virginia, Miami, Cleveland, New Orleans, Alameda, California, and Seattle. The SACs, in turn, reported to the director of CGIS at Headquarters who reported to the Chief of Operations and the vice commandant.
Field Intelligence Support Teams (FIST) are a vital component of the Coast Guard's Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security (PWCS) mission and against the large number of threats to homeland security. According to the United States Coast Guard, the primary function of a FIST is to "collect Law Enforcement Intelligence on all maritime threats, exchange information through relationships with government and private entities, conduct first order analysis, and disseminate tactical and operational intelligence directly to port level commanders as well as other Coast Guard units and government agencies."