The Four main Armed Services of the United States are fairly well known, and they are often referred to as the ?Armed Forces of the United States.? But there is a fifth service, that is not as well known or understood, the United States Coast Guard. Its motto is Semper Paratus. It means ?Always Ready.? The Coast Guard is one of the most active military services that protects the United States Coastline and both Oceans, and also its inland waterways and the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and other water locations both home and abroad.
The United States Coast Guard is the least known of the five U.S. Armed Forces. They started service as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790, and they are the longest continuously seagoing service, as the US Navy was disbanded for a short time following the American Revolutionary War. The service known as the United States Coast Guard has been variously part of the Department of the Navy (during time of war) and part of Department of Transportation, and the newly created Department of Homeland Security most recently since September 11th, 2001. Because they are part of a civilian branch of the government, they (for purposes of international relations) are considered a ?police force,? and other governments do not get upset or lodge protests if the Coast Guard boards their vessels. But make no mistake, they are truly a branch of the US Armed Forces, and their Servicemembers are considered military Veterans and are considered the same as other enlisted and commissioned Servicemembers in the other five services. Coast Guardsmen operate in times of peace and war. Coast Guardsmen also help in the War on Drugs, seizing and confiscating tons of illegal drugs each and every day. The work to board vessels, and look for smuggling, drugs, and human trafficking. Coast Guardsmen go anywhere in time of need, but are mainly based in the United States. They work to maintain freedom on land, at sea, and anywhere called to defend the United States.
If the Coast Guard was part of the Department of Defense they could be considered an ?Army or Navy? of the United States. Their actions in boarding could be considered an act of war if they were part of the Department of Defense.