Friday, March 03, 2006

US Coast Guard With Hat in Hand

Any kid who gets an allowance probably thinks it's not enough -- dad's just being cheap, right? I suspect that the US military and its individual services are a little more adult about the budgets they're given each year, understanding that resources and limited and everyone must share for the overall good of the country.

But while all services may complain to Congress that they don't receive enough funds to properly maintain existing assets, pay ongoing operational costs, and buy new stuff for the future, the US Coast Guard really does seem to get the short end of the stick, at least according to House subcommittee members who help oversee the agency (see "USCG Stoic About Proposed FY07 Budget"). Both Republicans and Democrats in that committee's most recent hearing seemed to feel that the $8 billion set aside for the Coast Guard, which in itself seems like a lot of money, actually doesn't go far enough to help the service adequately maintain existing assets and, more important, buy new ones, plus fulfill its many different duties, from maritime safety to drug interdiction to port security and more.

As one example of the aging cutter fleet the USCG must work with, Master Chief Franklin Welsch said the service's fleet was out of commission more than 50 percent of the time last year -- about four times what is supposed to be the average. Respect for the USCG professionalism and capabilities appears to be widespread yet, perhaps, taken for granted...

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