One of more than 33,000people rescued by theU.S. Coast Guard in theaftermath of HurricaneKatrina, Aug. 30, 2005,in New Orleans. AP photo/David J. Phillip

The US Coast Guard’s 2018 Fiscal Year Budget request was released in March of this year. A fact sheet summarizing it was also released. In short, the fact sheet states a request for $10.67 billion. The sheet outlaid three goals: a $1.2 billion investment in future USCG needs (construction and procurement of new cutters as well as upgrades to aircraft and airfields), “sustaining mission excellence” (improving cyber security and personnel background checks, funding new systems, and decommissioning old cutters), and funding current service requirements (paying for equipment and personnel). Earlier in March, the Coast Guard had to contest Trump’s proposal to cut its budget by 12% ($1.3 billion) while simultaneously increasing the other armed services’.

The Coast Guard is often left out of conversations about the military and national defense. It’s the “forgotten child” of the armed services. It is already underequipped. As Professor Kramer will point out, the US has only one icebreaker ship in operation, and it belongs to the US Coast Guard: it’s the USCGC Polar Star and it was commissioned in 1976. This post will not evaluate the geostrategic importance of the Arctic, but trust me, it is important. National security aside, the other crucial roles played by the Coast Guard are also overlooked. These roles include ones such as search and rescue along US coastlines and fishing areas (where it may be the only agency capable of doing so), aids to navigation (maintaining maritime signage and buoys), and enforcement of domestic and international fisheries regulations. It is important that the Coast Guard is not underfunded and overlooked, as its contribution to our country’s well-being is not insignificant.

John