State of Coast Guard? Under heavy strain

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft

FEBRUARY 25, 2015 — "Everyone will receive a pay check for work performed through February 27,"  Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft  said Tuesday as he delivered the 2015 State of the Coast Guard Address against the back drop of a continuing Washington fight on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Should a shut down occur, said the Commandant "our workforce, our acquisition programs and our daily operations will be adversely impacted."

"Despite the budget uncertainty, today," he continued, "I want to focus on the state of our Coast Guard and the extraordinary men and women who are leading us into the 21st century,

"Countries in our hemisphere are on the cusp of instability," said Adm. Zukunft. "The United States leads the world in oil and gas production. The cyber domain is transforming industries and governments at an astonishing rate. Arctic waters continue to open. There is no question: the United States Coast Guard is operating in a world unlike ever before."

"Today we're seeing significant increase in demand across all of our daily activities and it limits our ability to respond to major contingencies," said the Commandant.

"Indeed, we are facing a time like none other in our nearly 225 years of service.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the first time the Coast Guard has found itself at the confluence of increasing demand for services and a flat-lined – or worse – decremental budget. In the late 1990s, the Coast Guard faced significant budget pressure while demand remained steady. The resulting wear and tear became so dire in 1999 that one of my predecessors and mentors, Adm. James Loy, referred to Coast Guard readiness as a 'dull knife.' In fact, the Coast Guard nearly broke under the strain. So, yes, we've embarked upon this course before.

"Today, the knife is not yet dull, but we are cutting at a furious pace with no whetstone to sharpen the edge.

"Last year, I sent four 210-foot cutters to costly emergency dry dock availabilities, and lost 20 percent of my planned cutter underway days due to unscheduled maintenance. The Coast Guard is, once again, under heavy strain.

"Make no mistake; I will take decisive action to alleviate this strain.

"We will not do more with less. Those days are over.

"Rather, we will make tough decisions and tradeoffs. I am committed to ensuring that our budget priorities are driven by a Coast Guard strategy aligned with national priorities to ensure our people have the platforms they need to serve the Nation now and into the future."

The commandant also spoke of the duty to the people of the Coast Guard and investing in the future of its workforce. Among the actions to be taken are reinforcing a culture of respect that is inhospitable to sexual assault and the behaviors that enable it; completing a human capital plan that will provide guiding principles to enable the human resources directorate to build an adaptive, specialized and 21st-century workforce; revision of the service's diversity and inclusion strategic plan; review of civilian career management processes to eliminate barriers and improve upward mobility; and build proficiency by continuing to specialize within the officer and enlisted communities and extend tour lengths where it makes sense.

Read Admiral Zukunft's address HERE

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