MARCH 17, 2017 — U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft yesterday delivered the 2017 State of the Coast Guard Address at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
And, in light of a recent attempt by OMB to balance the Department of Homeland Security budget at the expense of the service, the sting in the address may have come at its tail end.
Admiral Zukunft stressed that the Coast Guard is first and foremost, an armed service.
"We are the only branch of the U.S. Armed Forces that has broad law enforcement authorities and a portfolio of more than 60 bi-lateral agreements that extend our jurisdiction around the globe," he said.
"I can state – objectively and unequivocally – this has been a phenomenal year for our Coast Guard," he declared.
But after reeling off a list of impressive Coast Guard achievements in the past year that included such things as the seizures of 210 tons of cocaine and the apprehension at sea of 5,000 Cuban migrants, Admiral Zukunft warned that "there were 580 events last year that we were aware of but could not target. This is an issue of capacity."
Admiral Zukunft noted that, although increases in military spending may seem promising, "there is a single phrase that has boxed in the Coast Guard; that has attributed to our annualized operating and maintenance appropriation being funded well below the Budget Control Act floor for each of the past five years.
"That phrase is 'Non-Defense Discretionary Funding.'
"We must invest to restore our military readiness. Our capability. Our capacity.
"The Coast Guard is an armed service. Yet we are not postured to benefit from vital national security investments because our funding is classified incorrectly. Our men and women are military members who operate on the front lines to secure our nation and our borders. Our service must be categorized and funded accordingly."
Read the full text of Admiral Zukunft's address HERE