Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Michel appeared before the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee today to discuss Coast Guard mission needs and resource allocation.
The Vice Commandant started his testimony by sharing how the Coast Guard is achieving national objectives around the globe – from the polar regions, where human activity is increasing, to the cyber domain, with its emerging challenges.
Pointing to the importance of interagency and international partners, the Vice Commandant shared how the Coast Guard has seen “significant disruptions” against criminal networks, to include the detention of 700 smugglers last year and the record pace of detentions this year, now at 391 narco-traffickers. The Coast Guard’s second-in-command pointed out how these successful interdictions do far more than keep drugs from reaching our hometowns.
“In very real terms, we are taking billions of dollars from the hands of illicit cartels,” said the Vice Commandant. “And each interdiction contains a treasure trove of intelligence that we can use to exploit the gaps and seams in criminal networks that lead to even more seizures and arrests. Intelligence drives operations like they never have before.”
The Vice Commandant thanked the subcommittee for their work thus far in advancing the Coast Guard’s long-term acquisition strategy, including support for the Offshore Patrol Cutter. The Offshore Patrol Cutter will recapitalize the service’s fleet of 50-year old medium endurance cutters and he shared his confidence that the service will down-select to a single shipbuilder and award the detailed design by the end of this fiscal year. Another key acquisition the Vice Commandant discussed was heavy icebreakers.
In talking about resource allocation, the Vice Commandant concluded his oral testimony by pointing out how investments in platforms must be matched with investments in people.
“As important as these new platforms may be,” said the Vice Commandant, “investing in a 21st century Coast Guard is as much about people as it is about ships, boats and aircraft. Our 2017 budget request recognizes the critical importance of building the workforce of the future.”