Coast Guard Readiness: Examining Cutter, Aircraft, and Communications Needs
Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on Coast Guard Readiness: Examining Cutter, Aircraft, and Communications Needs
June 26, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
The Coast Guard’s effort to recapitalize its aircraft, vessels and communications systems has suffered through some dark days. Fortunately, under the leadership of Admiral Papp and his predecessor, Admiral Allen, the program has turned the corner and the Service is finally taking delivery of new and improved assets in a cost-effective manner.
Unfortunately, just as the men and women of the Coast Guard are finally getting the new and improved assets promised them nearly 20 years ago, the President is proposing a budget that will set the program back another 15 to 20 years.
The President guts the Coast Guard’s acquisition budget, cutting it by 42 percent below the current level. The President’s request proposes to terminate or delay the acquisition of critically needed replacement assets. This will increase acquisition costs for taxpayers, place further strain on the Service’s aging and failing legacy assets, exacerbate growing capability gaps, and seriously degrade mission effectiveness.
As this Subcommittee has continually highlighted, the Coast Guard currently operates tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of hours short of its operational targets. This means assets are not there for the Service to conduct drug and migrant interdiction, protect our environment, secure our ports, and ensure the safety of our waterways. For instance, the Coast Guard reported that due largely to its failing legacy assets, it was forced to reduce hours spent conducting drug interdiction activities by 65 percent in recent fiscal years.
The only way to reverse the decline in the Coast Guard’s mission performance is to make the necessary investments to acquire new and improved assets. Unfortunately, based on the last couple of budget requests, it appears this Administration refuses to make those investments. If that is the case, then it is time for the President to tell Congress what missions the Coast Guard will no longer conduct. It is simply irresponsible to continue to send our servicemen and women out on failing legacy assets commissioned over 50 years ago and expect them to succeed in their missions.
I thank the witnesses for appearing today and look forward to their testimony.
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Vice Admiral John Currier, Vice Commandant, United States Coast Guard | Written Testimony
Mr. Ronald O’Rourke, Specialist in Naval Affairs , Congressional Research Service | Written Testimony
Dr. Steven Bucci, Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation | Written Testimony
Dr. Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress | Written Testimony