Coast Guard Official: We Will Have the Funds for Operations, Recapitalization
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Despite an initial fiscal 2018 budget proposal that would slash the Coast Guard’s budget by 12 percent, a top service official said April 4 that he was confident Congress would provide it with the funds it needs to sustain operations.
Vice Adm. Karl Schultz, commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area and the Coast Guard Defense Force-East, said he met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill that morning. And while he could not say much about a budget that is very much in its preliminary stages, he believes U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly “understands” the Coast Guard’s importance and the capabilities it brings to the table.
“We will have appropriate funds to sustain our level of operations and our recapitalization efforts that are going on today,” Schultz said.
However, the Coast Guard faces some tough near-term challenges. Schultz said his most pressing need is for 1,100 Reservists, which he says the United States will need when the next crisis arises.
“That big contingency, we don’t have to look too far around the corner to a Deepwater Horizon or a Hurricane Matthew or an earthquake,” he said. “The Coast Guard will be in all those responses.”
With President Donald J. Trump’s emphasis on securing borders, the Coast Guard is in fact pushing to expand its role in the future.
“Clearly, the Coast Guard is in that homeland security mission space,” Schultz said. “We’d like to be part of that conversation.”
Long term, Coast Guard officials say their continually flat budget is an ongoing concern. Because the budget fails to increase with the rate of inflation, it amounts to a budget cut every year in real terms, said Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, deputy commandant for mission support, and the moderator of the panel.
“I think that’s where the erosion has come in,” she said.