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Coast Guard History

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Coast Guard Intelligence / CGI?

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.

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 UCMJ.

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, or 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, VA, Miami, Cleveland, New Orleans, Alameda, CA, 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.  At this time, CGIS was comprised of 282 special agents and support personnel.


"Coast Guard Intelligence Looking For a Few Good Men and Women." Commandant's Bulletin (Jun 10 1983), p. 34.

"Coast Guard Investigative Service." Coast Guard (Dec 1996), pp. 24-25.

The Coast Guard at War: Volume XII: Intelligence. Washington, DC: Historical Section, Public Information Division, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, January 1, 1949.

Last Modified 1/12/2016