September 26, 2012

Semper Paratus!

The U.S. Coast Guard is one of those organizations that has a great reputation with the general public but about which that same general public knows very little. Unless you are involved in a business that brings you into direct contact with the Coast Guard on a regular basis or that depends heavily on what Coasties do especially when it comes to 'aids to navigation', the most any of us really know about the Coast Guard is that they save stranded boaters and occasionally pluck flooding victims from roof tops. That's a shame. The U.S. Coast Guard is one of those unheralded services that does so much for the country, on a shoe-string budget, and with little fanfare. I've had the great pleasure of getting to know various Coasties over the years and they are as solid, professional, and patriotic a group of people as one could wish for.

No surprise, then, that this article on the potential impact of sequestration on the U.S. Coast Guard caught my eye. Scary stuff made worse in that such arbitrary cuts would come on top of the long-running budget and programmatic challenges with which the Coast Guard is already struggling. Its effort to modernize its force, especially its fleet of ships many of which date back to the 1960s and 70s, has been fraught with problems. Just mention "Deepwater" to any Coastie and you're likely to see a shudder ripple through their body. The missteps associated with this program have accumulated over time to leave the Service operationally challenged though its spirit of service and courage in carrying out its missions remain unbroken - thank goodness! It is forging ahead (and here) in its efforts to replace old ships/craft, improve its ability to secure America's ports and harbors, interdict bad guys from making it to our shores, and ensure that commerce flows along our waterways. But all this might be undone if sequestration is allowed to happen. 

If you have little idea of what our Coast Guard does, what its origins are, or where it needs to head in carrying out its core functions, take a few minutes to read this excellent article written by a dear friend of mine a couple of years ago. You'll be better informed than 99% of your fellow citizens.

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