Leah M. Cole
Lieutenant Commander, USCG
Military Fellow

Areas of Expertise – Afloat Operations and Maritime Law Enforcement

LCDR Leah Cole joined the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies as a Military Fellow in June 2018. Her area of focus at DKI APCSS is strategic policy for maritime security and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, for the United States Coast Guard.

Prior to becoming a Military Fellow at APCSS, she was named the 2017 Alumnus of the year for her significant security cooperation contributions throughout Oceania. LCDR Cole attended the United States Coast Guard Academy where she graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors of Science in Government-International Affairs. In 2009, LCDR Cole completed her Masters of Science in Human Performance Technology from Florida State University. In 2017, she received her Joint Professional Military Education (JPME1) Diploma from the US Naval War College.

LCDR Cole’s operational assignments include USCGC GALLATIN serving as Deck Watch Officer, Combat Systems Officer, and Maritime Law Enforcement Officer, conducting extensive Counter-Narcotics missions for Joint Interagency Task Force South, and significant lifesaving missions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She then reported to USCGC METOMPKIN, then USCGC KODIAK ISLAND, both patrol boats out of Key West, Florida conducting extensive alien migration interdiction operations, human trafficking and lifesaving missions, and counter-narcotics operations in the Florida Straits, Yucatan Channel and Caribbean Sea. LCDR Cole also served as Operations Officer and Navigator aboard USCGC TAMPA , conducting extensive counter-narcotics operations in support of Operation MARTILLO and Operation BARRACUDA, multiple life-saving missions, and living marine resources enforcement for US Coast Guard Districts One, Five and Seven.

LCDR Cole’s shore assignments include instructing at the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center, where she earned certification as a Master Training Specialist. She then served as Executive Assistant to Commander, ATLANTIC AREA, the senior most operational commander in the Coast Guard.  LCDR Cole reported to APCSS after a tour at Joint Inter-Agency Task Force-West, US Pacific Commander’s executive agent for counter-narcotics in the Indo-Pacific as the Task Force’s Representative to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, French Territories, US Compact States, and all Pacific Island Nations) where she was responsible for orchestrating regional Counter-Narcotics efforts and security cooperation to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and activities within Oceania.

LCDR Cole’s awards include the permanent Cuttermans Pin, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Commandants Letter of Commendation, and various team, unit and service awards.

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