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Red Crew: Fighting the War on Drugs with Reagan’s Coast Guard

Thu, Jun 6, 2019, 4:00pm - 5:00pm

You are cordially invited to a book event with
 Captain Jim Howe
for his new book

Red Crew: Fighting the War on Drugs with Reagan’s Coast Guard

Thursday, June 6th
4:00 – 5:00 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C.


Red Crew

About the Book: Red Crew: Fighting the War on Drugs with Reagan’s Coast Guard is a first-hand account of U.S. Coast Guard anti-smuggling operations during the early years of the nation’s maritime war on drugs. Jim Howe describes his experience as the executive officer of a specialized drug-hunting crew that sailed in then-state-of-the-art “surface effect ships,” a small flotilla of high-speed vessels pressed into the drug war on short notice.

In the early 1980s, South Florida and the Caribbean were awash in illicit drugs, with hundreds of smuggling organizations bringing huge loads of marijuana, and later cocaine, into the United States. To fight this epidemic, the Reagan administration led a massive effort to disrupt shore-side gangs while bolstering interdiction activity at sea. To increase the number of days at sea for each surface effect ship, a “multi-crewing” concept was employed, with four teams of sixteen sailors—the Red, Blue, Green, and Gold Crews—rotating among three hulls.

Through its first-person narrative, Red Crew offers a rare glimpse into the day-to-day pressures, challenges, failures, and successes of Coast Guard cuttermen as they carried out complex and dangerous missions. Red Crew provides a unique historical view of the early days in the Coast Guard’s war on drugs, and is the only book-length history of the diminutive, one-of-a-kind surface effect ship fleet.

About the Author: Jim Howe served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for 27 years, rising to the rank of Captain (O-6). He was stationed aboard cutters for a total of 11 years, with five years in command. During his time at sea he gained extensive experience in maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and national security missions. His recent book, Red Crew: Fighting the War on Drugs with Reagan’s Coast Guard (Naval Institute Press) describes his first-hand experiences chasing smugglers and saving lives in the waters off South Florida aboard a one-of-a-kind flotilla of high-speed patrol boats.

After retiring from active duty, Howe served for two years as the senior career civil servant in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Legislative Affairs. He now works in the nuclear fuel industry.

From 2003 to 2005, Howe served in the Office of the Vice President of the United States as Special Advisor for Homeland Security, focusing on border and transportation security issues. During that time he interacted daily with the law enforcement professionals at a number of federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Secret Service, and he made several fact-finding visits to America’s northern and southern borders.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Government. Howe earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Government from Harvard University (Extension School); there, his master’s thesis examined maritime drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps War College, earning a Master of Strategic Studies degree, and in 2014 he earned a Master of Science degree in Space Studies from American Military University. He also is a graduate of the MIT Seminar XXI program and currently is conducting post-graduate research at the University of Leicester. Howe has written on national and border security topics and is an award-winning author.

Howe is a resident of Virginia where he lives with his wife, Shira. The Howes have five children.

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