|THE GREAT CATFISH RECOMMENDS A NEW LOOK AT COAST GUARD PLATFORMS AND ATTITUDES|
|NAMAZU, RETIRED JAPANESE GIANT CATFISH DEMIGOD TURNED MARITIME ANALYST|
As most of you know by now I'm 3,000 years old and rather fond of tradition and traditional values. But times and circumstances do change and sometimes certain traditions and traditional attitudes no longer serve the needs of the day. I think sailors are wise in usually resisting change until all the evidence for the need is in. However, I do believe that once the need for change is demonstrated change has to be embraced. Sometimes traditionalists embrace totally new and novel approaches in the very name of tradition. One example that I've written about in recent times is the Coast Guard's fixation on its "Deep Water" fleet replacement project. This project is giving the Coast Guard for the first time in over two centuries its own purpose built fleet. The traditionalist fully embrace this initiative which is bringing new cutters into the fleet built from the keel up to Coast Guard specifications. These same traditionalists "cuttermen" seem to have abandoned a tradition centuries in the making. "Craft of Opportunity", sometimes commercial conversions, once captured "rum runners", naval surplus vessels filled out underfunded Coast Guard vessel needs for most of the service's existence one of the many factors that led to the formulation of the old Coast Guard enlisted slogan:
We the willing, led by the inept, serve the ungrateful. We have been doing so much for so long with so little, that we are now capable of doing almost anything with nothing" .
The Coast Guard leadership, especially the cutterman community both officer and enlisted seem to have tossed out the old motto for fear that this institutional talent of the Coast Guard, if discovered by Congress, could lead to budget cuts that would endanger the purpose built fleet. This is especially true in the area of ice breaking capacity. Not only has the Coast Guard failed to come up with an affordable purpose built design to increase this much needed service capacity, the service was reluctant to accept Navy assistance in the acquisition process. Some inexpensive commercial conversions are readily apparent on the market that could increase the ice breaker numbers as well as capacities even if each such craft of opportunity was perfect for each task.
In the NAVAL INSTITUTE'S PROCEEDINGS , August 2017 edition Lt. David Allan Adams, Jr, USCG takes issue with the entire cutter centric service culture . He notes the many emerging Coast Guard missions that might be better served by other platforms be they high speed smaller vessels, helicopters or other air craft, or even Department of Defense systems. He notes the rise in demand for the Coast Guard's "DOG FORCES" ( Deployable Operations Groups ) and the rising cost of both cutter acquisition, and up keep as well as cutter inefficiencies for certain missions. Among his observations:
"....today, there are no longer times of war buffered by periods of peace. Instead, these two environments are now dangerously mixed in the “gray zone.” This unique environment demands a unique response that combines the capabilities of both a law enforcement agency and a counter terrorism, special missions team."
"In 2008, Admiral Thad Allen, when taking the helm as commandant of the Coast Guard, understood that we needed “to bring the Coast Guard into the 21st century” and “make it more responsive to the needs of the nation.” 8 He noted that modernization alone would not suffice and that the Coast Guard must be a “change-centric organization.” 9 His Intent to Action Order #1 was to set up the Deployable Operations Group (DOG) to provide properly equipped, trained, and organized Deployable Specialized Forces to Coast Guard, DHS, DOD, and interagency operational and tactical commanders. 10 His attempt to change the way the Coast Guard does business had “many senior officers wringing their hands” but sparked enthusiasm in younger Coasties—enlisted and officer alike." 11
"The Government Accountability Office recently pointed out that the “Coast Guard still has difficulty determining whether it has the right resources for the right missions at the right time . . . which puts the service at risk of repeating past mistakes as it continues to modernize and upgrade its aging flee"
There will be those who will find the young lieutenant "out of line", and thinking "above his pay grade", and "disrespectful of tradition". As a 3,000 year old observer of history I usually fall into that group....but not this time. The U.S. Coast Guard is taking too long to assert the strong presence in the High Arctic that the United States must have. Domestic port security is not what it should be , and when its time to "loose the 'DOGS' " they seem to be too often either a DOG short or short of a delivery capability of the "DOG" to the scene. Your damn near infallible Catfish urges Coastie policy makers, POTUS, and Congress to read and give careful consideration to "