By Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft
Today, United States Coast Guard men and women are standing the watch around the world in service to our Nation. Our efforts and mission success depend on reliable and predictable funding.
The Coast Guard is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires on Friday. Secretary Johnson has highlighted some of the key impacts this continuing resolution has on maritime security, emphasizing the need for a clean, full-year Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015 to support the necessary operational, personnel, and acquisition funding for the Coast Guard.
Unreliable funding jeopardizes aircraft, cutter and boat maintenance and operations. It unnecessarily places an increased burden on our extraordinary people – 88,000 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary members – who go into harm’s way every day, and they deserve safe and effective operational platforms.
Although Coast Guard men and women will continue to protect life and property at sea and preserve national security interest because of the oath they took, a lapse in funding will require the Coast Guard to curtail operations in several key mission areas, including routine law enforcement patrols and facility inspections; fisheries enforcement; mariner licensing and credentialing; certain vessel inspection and waterways management activities; and recreational boating safety.
If our appropriations lapse, Coast Guard men and women standing watch globally will not be paid. Further, over 6,000 valuable Coast Guard civilians – or nearly three quarters of our total civilian workforce – will be furloughed. Again with no guarantee of pay.
Also in the event of a lapse in appropriations, nearly $1 billion in acquisition and maintenance contracts will continue to be deferred or otherwise disrupted – reducing the long-term operational availability and effectiveness of the Coast Guard. These delays erode the security of our maritime borders.
Finally, a lapse in appropriations will adversely affect our retired personnel. These dedicated veterans, who often live on fixed incomes, will not receive their retired pay.
I echo Secretary Johnson’s support of America’s Coast Guard and his call to action in passing a clean, full-year appropriations bill.