Posted on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.
Today I delivered my third State of the Coast Guard Address at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. As we look back on what we’ve accomplished in the last year and then look forward to the horizon, I have great confidence and optimism about where we are today and where we are headed.
My confidence is inspired by the dedication and leadership of Coast Guard men and women. This dedication was vital before, during and after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in November 2012.
For example, Coast Guard captains of the port worked closely with industry, Department of Homeland Security components and the rest of the interagency in advance of the storm to secure the ports. Using the Automated Identification System and our Rescue 21 System, they located vessels to warn them prior to the storm and ensure they were taking appropriate action. These prevention efforts underscore the fact that the best search and rescue case just might be the one we prevent.
I also had the privilege today of recognizing several Hurricane Sandy responders including Petty Officer 2nd Class Randy Haba – a rescue swimmer who spent more than an hour in the water to bring five people to safety following the sinking of the HMS Bounty. I also recognized Chief Petty Officer Broko Boland – who led 30 Strike Team members to build and employ an innovative system capable of pumping water seven stories straight up through the ventilation shaft of the flooded Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
During the address I also announced the release of the Commandant’s Situation Report 2013. This “SITREP” details progress towards service priorities and objectives outlined in my 2011 Commandant’s Direction and the key work that remains to be done.
One such priority is our continued emphasis upon proficiency which must remain the enduring anchor of the Coast Guard – proficiency in craft, proficiency in leadership and disciplined initiative. This type of proficiency was embodied by the Hurricane Sandy Coast Guardsmen who joined me at the Address. Their actions demonstrated disciplined initiative, which is the ability to improvise and innovate while balancing risk verses benefit.
While I am incredibly proud of all of the things we’ve done to keep our Service sound, we still must work to eliminate those things that have no part in our Coast Guard: sexual assault, hazing, harassment and alcohol abuse – or any other activity that is contrary to our core values. As Coast Guardsmen we each have a duty to respect our Shipmates and that duty demands courage.
And we are making progress. Our Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Task Force completed a year of work to identify the problems and propose solutions. Our Sexual Assault Prevention Council will direct implementation of the Task Force recommendations and coordinate service-wide efforts to eliminate sexual assault from our Service in the future.
One example of what our future holds can be seen in the emerging frontier of the Arctic, where there is a new ocean appearing. Operations in this environment demand specialized capabilities and personnel, so today I announced that next month we plan to release the first comprehensive Coast Guard Arctic strategy. This strategy will focus on improving Arctic awareness, modernizing governance and broadening partnerships.
Coast Guard missions ensure adherence to a system of rules and sustain the mechanisms designed to provide for the security, safety and prosperity of our nation and all those who use the maritime domain. This is the daily work of government that provides us with both order and opportunity on the oceans. In short, what we are doing is providing maritime governance. And it is critical to our national security.
We continue to watch that horizon. It is where you first see the masts of an approaching ship and the signs of whether it is friend or foe. It’s also where you first see the break in the clouds or the shift in the winds and the path through those uncertain and stormy seas. It is where the sun rises and sets and where the stars we use to navigate first appear. For that reason, we will always move forward, towards the horizon. Of course we’ll never reach it; because over every horizon awaits another. And that is the promise that drives us forward.