12 August 2005

Spare a Few Bucks for the Coast Guard???

While on active duty in the Coast Guard, we were all taught a few slogans: Semper Paratus, You Have to Go Out --– You Don'’t Have to Come Back, and That Ain''t in the Budget.

I understood the first two. Hell, I was "“all about"” the first two, but the third? How could it be that the Coast Guard could ever be short on funds? We save lives, right? Let'’s take a look at some basic principles:

When I was in, USCG uniforms could be purchased at Sears. The working blues I learned to iron, iron and iron again were no different than any those worn by any mechanic working at Jiffy Lube, Sears or Midas. Sadly, their uniforms were probably better stitched.

The USCG has a proud history of clinging on to other Service'’s schools, as well. Personally, I attended Quartermaster and Signalman schools at NAVTRACEN Orlando. Orlando, Florida as a 19 year-old male? Are you kidding me? I had a great time in Orlando. Then I was sent to New London, Connecticut. Connecticut. I was a kid from northern California and I was being sent to New England? Hey Chief, they have ski resorts in Vermont, eh?

What a shame.

I also seem to recall Petty Officer Leadership and Management School at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, but that memory is a bit foggy. I was twenty-one by then and let'’s face it, Quantico ain'’t Orlando.

The CG also has a proud history of doing more with less. I can'’t tell you how many times I was told, "Petty Officer Big-mouth-from-California-who-didn't-want-to-get-stationed-in-New England-until-you-were-told-they-had-ski-resorts-there, you'’ll just have to learn to do more with less."” My reply, "“Fabulous, Chief, I have heard a lot about Les, I look forward to doing more with him. Does he surf?"” Now don"’t get me wrong, I cherish my years in the Coast Guard. I just wish we could've received an increase in the budget. As I found out, Les didn't surf.

Anyhoo, The Washington Times reports:
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the Coast Guard's fleet of orange-and-white cutters is rusting away. As The Washington Times reported Monday, 22 of the Coast Guard's 49 110-foot cutters have corroded hulls and some "actually had holes in the hull and water coming in." A top Coast Guard official told Congress last month that only about a quarter of the cutters are mission-capable.

In an age when the Coast Guard is called on to perform new antiterror duties, its old and decrepit fleet poses significant liabilities. This has not been unexpected: For years, forward-thinking voices have called for overhauling the Coast Guard. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, for one, called for it to be doubled in size a few years ago. A year after the September 11 attacks, in an influential study for the Heritage Foundation, Bruce Stubbs, a retired Coast Guard officer and former cutter commander, concluded that "the expansion of the Coast Guard's homeland-security operations after September 11 caused a major reshuffling of its mission priorities and assets." Yet, Washington has allowed the Coast Guard to languish.
Excuse me, Senator Feinstein? We'd love to respond to your distress call, but we're having a bake sale to finance our search and rescue operations.

Semper Kudos to The Mudville Gazette for their Open Post.

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