Obama Budget Sets Coast Guard Adrift

Since everyone else seems to be writing about healthcare, or Senator Bunning, I decided to do a post on the affect Obama’s budget cut will have on the United States Coast Guard.  Besides, I wrote about healthcare Yesterday and Senator Bunning the day before.

President Obama’s budget proposal includes a 3% cut in funding for the United States Coast Guard.  Taking into consideration the ever-expanding role of the Coast Guard and its’ primary defense of our nations seaports and waterways against terrorism, is a budget cut the prudent thing to do when there is so much waste elsewhere in the federal government?  Can’t we find an additional 300 million in the 2.25 trillion dollar healthcare bill, or what about the trillion dollar Stimulus,  wasn’t it supposed to save jobs? 

A budget cut to 10.1 billion dollars to a force smaller than the NYC police department will result in the loss of 1100 active duty Coast Guard Personnel.   This means there will be 5 less deployable marine safety and security teams available to respond to emergencies, or provide training to port authorities, other federal agencies, or foreign governments.  That is also 5 less teams to provide security when terrorist threat levels are increased, or to respond to an attack, or disaster such as Haiti, or Katrina.

This will also mean a reduction in vessel patrol days protecting our borders from drug smugglers, terrorists and illegal immigration.   The lack of Coast Guard presence along our nation’s vast water borders will be a green flag for illegal activities, or anyone wishing to do us harm.

Coast Guard Commandant Selectee, Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr, has indicated that he will be forced to slash funding for homeland security operations, vessels patrols and training.  All necessary requirements for the safety of our nation.

While I understand the Admiral’s concern.  I also look at the fact that he may be playing simple politics.  Basically, if I make it look a little worse than it is, public outrage may change the President’s mind.  I have seen this tried in the past and it has never worked under a Democrat controlled government.  They would much rather spend the money on social programs.   Social programs buy them votes.

The Coast Guard is our nation’s first line of response for national emergencies, maritime disasters, emergency medical evacuations, oil pollution control and a host of other missions.  During Hurricane Katrina the Coast Guard saved over 20,000 lives. 

They are often called beyond our borders to provide assistance to others in time of need.  The first on scene in Haiti was a Coast Guard Cutter.  The first vessel to provide relief to the country of Georgia, when the Russians attacked, was a Coast Guard Cutter.  

Whether patrolling our coasts, or patrolling the coasts of Iraq, or providing escort support to troop ships docking in Iraq, destroying ammunition caches or mine laying barges, or operating in support of special forces, the US Navy depends on the Coast Guard to assist with a variety of military missions.  Could the US Navy do without one small budget item in order to provide the necessary funding to keep the Coast Guard sharp?

I’ve seen this before.  The worst was of course the Carter years.  I remember spending two entire fourth quarters tied to the pier without fuel money.  I can recall not being sent to assist with the Cuban Exodus  , even though we had the ideal vessel for Cuban Operations, because they could not find the fuel money to send us down from Baltimore.   The majority of our ships on scene were old and falling apart, over half our response aircraft were considered hanger queens and should not have been flying.  President Carter was never concerned about the condition of the Coast Guard nor the safety of its’ personnel.  He underfunded us, underpaid us, sent many of us into welfare lines, or looking for other work.

One of the first acts of President Clinton was to fund a study to get rid of the Coast Guard.  The study indicated to the President that ‘if we did not have a Coast Guard, we would be forced to recommend creating one’.  What Clinton and many others failed to realize was two very important things.  The public gets more bang for the buck out of the multi-mission Coast Guard than any other federal agency and the Coast Guard is the only military organization with law enforcement authority over the civilian populace.

Though the study did change Clinton’s opinion of the Coast Guard.  It did not stop him from cutting the budget to the bare essentials.  Once again we found ourselves cutting forces, reducing patrols, ignoring secondary missions, maintenance and training.   Basically, robbing Peter to pay Paul in order to stay afloat.

The fact that the Coast Guard once again finds itself on the cutting block does not surprise me.  The Coast Guard has always suffered under Democrat administrations.  

Yesterday, I received both a voice and e-mail from Democrat Senator Mark Warner (R-VA) inviting me to a federal jobs fair.  While the federal government will hire an additional 60,000 attorneys and economist, at six figure salaries that will ultimately double the cost of government work and increase the deficit and taxes, they will ignore the safety and security of the public by cutting Coast Guard funding.

When a new Republican Administration comes in they will forced to once again spend billions of public tax dollars to get the Coast Guard back to where it is today.  But, you cannot buy back the talent that will be lost during Obama’s forced personnel cuts.  That is something you can never buy.

My friends, the Coast Guard will survive these bad times as it always has.  On the backs of the dedicated professionals that make up the core of Coast Guard Spirit.  Their talents, skills and a never say die attitude will see them through the hard times ahead.  Please wish them fair winds and following seas through the eye of the storm.

A little Coast Guard Zen 🙂

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One Response to Obama Budget Sets Coast Guard Adrift

  1. […] Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral J. R. Papp brought  national attention to the issue when he released a memo suggesting a reduction in force of 1,100 personnel, the decommissioning of […]

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