Doing More with Less is Hard, Especially When No One Knows You Do It

The recent budget announced by President Trump included a surprise for the Coast Guard – an almost 12% cut in funding. Despite an almost across the board increase for both military and law enforcement funding, the smallest sea service was dealt the largest cut. But, it may be the result of years of doing more with less.

President Trump has not been shy about openly supporting both the military and law enforcement, calling for almost Reagan era funding, as well as platform based support for increased enforcement. On the surface, this should have been a literal “win, win” for the Coast Guard. Not only is it a military service, it is also a very active federal law enforcement agency tasked with drug interdiction, immigration enforcement and recreational safety patrol. But that is not how it turned out.

I don’t blame President Trump. Nor do I blame the advisers who assist him in drafting the budget. I blame the Coast Guard for repeatedly completing the mission no matter what – for constantly doing more with less.

  • The current ice breakers have been in service since the mid 1970’s.
  • Some of the Small Boat Stations in use on the East Coast were first opened by the Life Saving Service in the late 1800’s.
  • The service has made a habit of refurbishing discarded Navy vessels and returning them to service far past the expected service life.

The list goes on – examples of how the Coast Guard has repeatedly suffered under funding but continued to respond day in and day out, accomplishing every mission assigned. Search & rescue operations continue, aids to navigation are placed and maintained, and patrols continue to interdict a host of illegal cargo & people.  The real problem is few people know what the Coast Guard actually does. Those that have even the slightest idea only know that the mission always gets done. While this is honorable, and eve admirable, it does not help in the budget battle.

It’s time for the leadership to toot its own horns and sound the alarm.

  • Point out how the 40 year old ice breakers are the only means of accessing, and defending, the frozen arctic – a prime target of the current Russian leadership.
  • Explain how the ancient stations are responsible for daily patrols of local waterways, including countless search & rescue or boating safety patrols vital to the local community.
  • Ask what good a 2000 mile border fence will do if the over 95,000 miles of coast line is unprotected?

Rest assured, the dedicated members of the Coast Guard will continue to do their duty no matter what the funding issues. But you can be equally assured that if not funded now, the cost will only grow, and the impact will be much greater. What will never be known is how many boaters will be rescued too late, drugs never found or illegal aliens missed because the Coast Guard could not be always ready.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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