Archive for the 'Coast Guard' Category

Much has been said in this forum and others about the U.S. Navy’s rebalance to Asia-Pacific as well as current and impending fiscal constraints. Less has been said about how these two significant challenges might simultaneously impact the Navy’s operating paradigm and investment strategy. As the Navy rebalances, we face a challenge of simultaneously maintaining a forward and ready posture—where it matters, when it matters—while continuing to invest in the capabilities that are necessary for addressing present and future challenges to America’s national interests. This challenge is neither easy nor without precedent, but it is imperative as current fiscal constraints drive the Navy to be even more judicious in directing resources. To that end, an integrated and thoughtful force design is essential if the Navy is to invest in the force of tomorrow while ensuring our current employment is scaled and configured to affordably accomplish all of our missions today. I believe there are two primary pillars to this force design – creating an affordable operating paradigm for today’s force and investing in the force of the future. I would like to address here the first pillar under a concept I call tailored global presence.

Tailored global presence is an approach to how the Navy organizes, prepares, and deploys forces. The Asia-Pacific rebalance, already underway, is part of that approach: by 2020 the Navy will have rebalanced 60 percent of its forces to this critical region. As we shift the bulk of our forces to Asia-Pacific we will continue to maintain a robust capability in the Middle East with rotational deployments of aircraft carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups as a bulwark in this volatile region. In Europe the Navy will emphasize our unique contributions to the NATO alliance through specific capabilities such as maritime ballistic missile defense using our most advanced destroyers. In the Western Hemisphere our primary focus will be on lower-cost, small footprint missions aimed at protecting the approaches to the homeland. Innovative employment of inherently flexible ships such as Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and Joint High-Speed Vessels (JHSV) will prove invaluable to maritime security and cooperative efforts in Africa and South America – an alternative to sending large amphibious ships or destroyers.

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in March enroute to Singapore. US Navy Photo

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in March enroute to Singapore. US Navy Photo

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20130412-072001.jpgOne year. That’s how long it’s been since the Coast Guard lost two more if its Shipmates. However, this loss seemed a little more tragic than most. As opposed to losing members of our Coast Guard family to a mishap of equipment or an operational mission they were taken by other means.

ET1 James Hopkins and BMC Richard Belisle (Ret.) lost their lives one year ago today as the result of a heinous crime. Without trying to reopen old wounds it would suffice to say they were murdered. After months of speculation and rumors there was finally a break in the case bringing the entire Coast Guard family within grasp of an end. Now it’s a waiting game.

Despite the fact that the ordeal is almost closed we can’t forget that we lost two members of our family. We won’t forget; we’ll always Remember.



Yesterday President Obama released his proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget to Congress with the intent of adding to the reduction of the federal deficit to the tune of $4 trillion. However, to achieve this the government will make further cuts to the spending habits of past and rethink when and where the spending should be done in the future.

However, as I’m a proponent for the Coast Guard I went into the proposed budget looking for what might be heading our way in terms of cuts (or additions?). We’re currently already in the midst of sequestration which slashed funding across the board as a means to save the government funds. What else could there be?

Overall the reduction to funding, though not directly established for the Coast Guard, has been proposed for DHS at large. The proposal calls for a decrease of 1.5 percent, or $615 million, below the 2012 enacted level. In the grand plan that’s not all that much. On the same note the budget cites a $1.8 billion savings across the entire department.

The Coast Guard is only mentioned a measly two time in the cuts and savings plan. I look at this as a good thing. Here they are:

Pollution Response:

  • It seems a little soon for people to forget that the Coast Guard, among others, recently undertook the massive response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; however, in reading, it seems some may have.In a proposed cut to the EPA (CUTS: SUPERFUND SUPPORT TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES Environmental Protection Agency) it’s requested to drop an annual $6 million transfer of funds to their Hazardous Substance Superfund account. From that inject the Coast Guard annually receives $4.5 million. These are the fund that the Coast Guard uses to respond to oil drums and substances of an unknown type (excluding known oil spills and the like- those use the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund).

    Reading further into the justification you’ll see “…impacts to USCG, NOAA, and DOI should be minimal due to mission-specific funding within those agencies and the continued ability to enter into interagency agreements to fund specific support taskings.” Though I’m not up-n-up on all the legal mumbo-jumbo I wonder how this would work. The Coast Guard, by law, uses different funding streams for different incidents (or potential incidents) thus if the funding for the Superfund is cut it begs the question to who will fund it. I suppose that the Coast Guard could inject their own funding but then we’re adding another $4.5 million to operational spending that we currently don’t budget for annually.

Aviation:

  • This is a cost saving measure as opposed to a drop in funding; nonetheless, it seems like it wasn’t thought through all the way. Though in theory the proposal of SAVINGS: SHARING EXCESS AVIATION EQUIPMENT seems like a good idea I question the long-term benefits.The measure calls for the CG and CPB to share equipment in the aviation sector as it pertains to the CG’s HU-25 Falcons and the CBP’s MX-15 sensor packages. In short, as we decommission our Falcons (17 of them in 2015) we’ll be giving CBP the radar systems (they already use them) and we’re going to use the already established maintenance system from CBP on our MX-15 sensors. It’s supposed to save $20 million between now and 2016.

    The issue I have, though it won’t really mean anything to the Coast Guard, is that the systems we’ll be giving to CBP will be (are?) obsolete by the time they’ll get to use them in 2016. But, that’s just my opinion.

Do you have anything to say on the subject?



Join us Sunday 24 Mar 2013 at 5pm Eastern U.S. for Episode 168: “USCG and the Arctic” on Blog Talk Radio:

There is a fair bit of talk about the rush for the arctic for economic and strategic reasons – and where there is international interest on the seas, the nations involved need to think about what is the best way to secure their interests.

While the initial thought might be Navy – is the natural answer really the Coast Guard? If the USCG is the right answer, is it trained, manned and equipped for the job?
What does it need to do in order to fulfill its role – and why may it be the best answer to the question – who will show the flag up north?

Our guest this Sunday for the full hour from 5-6pm EST will be U.S. Naval War College Associate Professor James R. Holmes. As a starting point for our conversation, we will use his latest article in Foreign Policy: America Needs a Coast Guard That Can Fight: As the Arctic becomes an arena for conflict, the United States’ forgotten naval force will need to cowboy up.

Join us live or later by going to Midrats on BTR or picking up the show later from our iTunes page (lately there has been some delay in getting the show to iTunes, though, and the link may require iTunes).



I can hear the backlash from that title from here. However, before you put me in a position to be stoned by the masses I’d like to make my case and open the floor to your thoughts too.

My military service has been good to me. I have fairly good healthcare, I get paid well, I’ve learned a lot of life skills, and my jobs haven’t been all that bad either. I’m sure we can all agree that our education benefits over the last ten years or so have been rather awesome too. As a matter of perspective, if not an admission, I was able to pay for about 90 percent of my bacholor degree by way of tuition assistance (TA) while serving in the Coast Guard.

As a one-time Education Services Officer and full time education evangelist I can say that TA was an awesome tool. Times were great, until March 1st, 2013 came and messed that all up.

The deed known as Sequestration became a reality at the beginng of this month and immediately started changing things. From travel to schools and conferences in between life as I/we knew it had begun to alter.

In the Coast Guard alone our operational budget had to be cut by some 25 percent. As I actually type that out it doesn’t seem too bad. That is, until I remember that the word “operational” means search and rescue, among other things. As a measure to ensure the Coast Guard is able to continue saving lives and protecting the nations shores our leaders had to look around to find ways to fill that 25% gap with “non-operational” funds. It’s no surprise that TA was eliminated. I am surprised, however, it didn’t happen sooner if only as a cost saving measure.

Over the last year, give or take, the question of when/if TA is going to be cut or reduced had been broached by many. Though I had no official word from higher authority my gut told me it was in trouble; with or without sequestration. Nonetheless, in the end four of the five military services, USCG included, killed their TA funding.

As of today only the Navy is holding on to its TA program, at least through the end of the current fiscal year (FY13). Congress saved TA for everyone but the Coast Guard.

Aside from obvious fiscal savings- the act of dropping TA may be a subliminal tactic to keep only the best and the brightest in the ranks of our military. I don’t think you’ll actually hear anyone comment on that nor do I think it was a real reason to drop it. However, one has to remember that TA was not only a awesome deal but a recruiting and retentention tool too. How better to thin the ranks outside of the avenues already being taken?

So this leads me to why this ordeal is good. As mentioned this may be a way for the Coast Guard, and others, to retain only the best of their service, or at least the best educated. From my personal observations, with no real data to back it up, I’ve noticed that most of our senior Enlisted folks, as well as most Officers above O-2, hold some sort of degree or are perusing such. With the TA program currently dismissed, and the next fiscal year expected to bring only a fraction of the funds back for use, only those who are truly dedicated will get their education on their own dime*.

As I understand it NAVADMIN 263/04 (the link is broken to the actual message) from the Navy states, in so many words, that beginning in fiscal year 2011 an associate degree or equivalent that is rating-relevant will be a prerequisite for advancement to senior chief petty officer for active and reserve personnel. If this were true across all services then only the best educated would be the leaders.

It’s true that an education doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great leader but one has to admit that if we were required to get a degree in our specialty our military would be better for. We don’t need a retained workforce, we need an educated workforce to move forward in today’s world.

So the removal, or reduction, of tuition assistance will allow the Coast Guard to keep only the best and brightest in its ranks. If they were to go one step further and require certain degrees for certain jobs or certain ranks then we could truly be one of the best educated fighting nations in the world.

Does removal tuition assistance suck? Yes. But will it help the Coast Guard and other services in the long run? Also yes, if it is leveraged correctly.

Any thoughts on the matter?

Update 22 March 2013: The Coast Guard also reinstated its TA (http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1732873/)

* Rumors are tuition assistance in the Coast Guard is going to be back, but not nearly as robust as it once was.



gfdsI still remember the first time ME1 (formerly MK1) Sean Lawler called me up to tell me about this guy who decided he was going to run the Keys 100 (in Key West, FL) in remembrance of Coast Guard members who’d fallen in the line of duty. To put it bluntly I thought it was a crazy idea- ambitious- but crazy. However, as I started to work with ME1 on getting the word out, the more I realized that I actually knew little about those who’ve died in the line of duty. Short of Douglas Munro, and the smattering of Shipmates lost during the 2011 timeframe, I was ill equipped to know who they were.

LT Brian Bruns, that ambitious individual, had a goal of not only bringing awareness to those who’ve fallen in the line of duty but was also looking for a way to bring awareness to the Coast Guard Foundation’s Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund. Bruns’ and Lawler’s plan worked. Enter the 2011 Coast Guard Run2Remember; in the end LT Bruns ran the 100 mile ultra marathon in memory of 90+ Shipmates who had fallen since 9/11. Donated funds came in at around $2,000 all of which were donated to the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund. Not too bad for a single runner and a few followers.

Last year’s second annual Coast Guard Run2Remember (2012) got a whole lot bigger, and LT Lucy Love entered into the coordinator’s seat. After seeing the impact the first event had on the families of the fallen, LT Love stepped up and took the initiative to ensure a 2nd event took place. With LT Bruns deployed, she assumed the reins and transformed a one-man event into a movement. She continued to work with ME1 Lawler and together they renewed a campaign to bring further awareness to the Foundation’s scholarship fund and the Coasties we’ve lost.

Their hard work paid off. LT Love involved not only some 93 people to run the Keys 100 but also individual events at units throughout the Coast Guard. Units from Virginia to Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and even Kuwait were holding their own Run2Remeber events. While Love worked to coordinate the actual running in Key West (yes, another crazy one!) and help the individual event holders at units around the globe, Lawler was (and still is) hard at work getting the word out via their Facebook page, unit event pages, Twitter, and in general online social interactions. Lawler is also the designer, three years running, of their logos and images. It’s a lot of work on top of their day jobs.

As a member of the Coast Guard, I was part of our local Run2Remember here in Juneau, AK last year. We had a turnout of about 50 or so people all wearing the t-shirts with the names of the fallen on the back. I still wear mine knowing someone is reading the back. At the end of the 2012 campaign, LT Love and ME1 Lawler’s work enabled them to donate $12,000 dollar to the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund. Awesome!

The event has kind of taken a life of its own without a doubt. I admit I never saw it getting as big as it has. With that in mind I wondered if the Coast Guard as an organization would have taken notice- they have. Though the event isn’t sponsored by the Coast Guard it definitely is supported. Which is good enough for me.

The 2013 campaign has changed a little. After listening to both participants and wishful participants of last year’s event the duo set in motion a change of name and a change of participation. Starting this year the formerly named Run2Remember has officially been changed to CG Remember (it will be held 17 & 18 May 2013).

Why the change to such a successful event? Well, in short, not everyone runs or can run. So the name change opens up the event to not only runners but also bikers, rowers, rollers skaters, house sitters, and your backyard Bar-B-Q. “Virtually any event can be used as a remembrance event. It’s not about the exercise or running, it never was, it’s about remembering.” says ME1 Lawler.

The goal hasn’t change though. The event is still here to help the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund. What has changed, along with the name, are the t-shirts. Over the past two years the shirts have listed the names of the fallen since September 11, 2001; 90+. This year that number has risen to 126 fallen Shipmates going back to 1982 1978. It will also include the most fallen Shipmate, [Senior] Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who died in 2012.

ME1 Sean Lawler said it well in a letter to 2012 participants writing, “To the families of the fallen members, we know that nothing will ever ease the pain you have from losing a loved one, but you need to know that every member of the Coast Guard is with you, thanks you, and will always remember your sacrifice. Our uniforms have our names on the right side, but bear the words [U.S.] Coast Guard on the left…and that makes us all family. We will always remember our family.”

I look at the work that is being done here as Coasties helping Coasties. We’re known as an organization that is always there to help the public; however, we’re also just as capable with helping each other.

Now the easy part: getting involved. If you’re in the Coast Guard it’s likely that your unit is already planning something. Check the list of participating units at event page which will have your local point of contact.

If you’re not in the Coast Guard, or you’d rather not participate in an event but still want to help Coast Guard Foundation Fallen Hero Scholarship fund, you can purchase your own t-shirt for $20. The best part is 100% of the proceeds go to the scholarship fund. If you’d rather just donate without anything in return you’ll also find the address to mail donation on that same page. Either way it’s a great cause.

Thank you LT Love and ME1 Lawler for keeping this annual remembrance in motion.

LT Lucy Love was the Coast Guard’s Shipmate of the Week on 15 March 2013.



$(KGrHqJ,!i!E-0+m0ZJ,BP1D8eL-m!~~60_12This morning I found out, via Facebook of all places, that an arrest was made in the case of two Shipmates that were murdered in Kodiak in April 2012. Yesterday- 15 February 2013- James Wells, long thought to be the principal suspect in the case, was taken into custody by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and Alaska State Troopers.

The murder of ET1 James Hopkins and retired BMC Richard Belisle on 12 April 2012 came as a huge blow to the Coast Guard family. With a service as small as ours- and getting smaller- it was easy to know someone who was connected one way or another to ET1 or BMC.

With the murders taking place on the isolated island of Kodiak it was thought that the case was going to be an easy one to solve. After all, where could one go when there’s nowhere to go?

The FBI immediately took on the investigation as the crime took place on federal property (the murders took place inside Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak buildings). The fact that that FBI was on it also brought down the anxiety level of many as this case was right in line of the FBI’s work. That is, the solving of murder cases. However, with weeks turning into months and murmurs and rumors within the small island town starting to dwindle away it suddenly became a question of “if” and not “when” the FBI was going to charge someone.

After all was said and done though it looks as if the FBI has got their man. Though he’s been detained in connection with the murders of our Shipmates we won’t know why Wells was actually taken into custody until next week when the sealed affidavit is opened and discussed in court.

So until then we continue the waiting game… but now we don’t have to hold our breath.

Source



Posted by Ryan Erickson in Coast Guard | 2 Comments
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CaptureThere needs to be some discussion on the use of “ex” in news stories concerning military members across the board.

However, the big offender on the list today (actually yesterday now…) is Navy Times. Yesterday on the site’s news pages I read two headlines stating “Ex-Navy SEAL” and “Ex-SEAL…” both are differing subjects (screen shot right). However, within the article they correct themselves to use the proper label of “former.” Yes, there is a difference.

Perhaps those at Navy Times know there is a difference and they’re only link-baiting… maybe not. Matters not if they are link-baiting to get your attention- they should at least give the individuals they’re discussing the respect of proper labels.

So what’s the difference? Well, if you ask a Marine they can tell you outright; however, for some reason it’s not as prevalent in the other services. The label “ex” (e.g. ex-Coastie) should lead one to believe that this person was once a Coastie but it no longer because they were discharged for wrongdoing or some other ill thing (actual title: Ex-Coastie commits wire-fraud). Whereas the label of “former” spells out that the individual was once a member of said service and left on good terms (good conduct discharge, retired. etc.). For example the Navy Times had a story of an “Ex-Coast Guard member” who wrote a book (I’m reading it with a review soon); however, this was NOT an “ex” Coastie but, in fact, a “former” member of this great service.

The soapbox was there, I stood up and said my piece, now I’ll get down.



Episode 158: 3rd Anniversary Show 01/13 by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio at 5pm Eastern U.S.:

Join us this Sunday to celebrate Midrat’s 3rd Anniversary with a free-ranging panel discussion with some of your favorite guests from the past three seasons.

Join your hosts Sal from “CDR Salamander” and EagleOne from “EagleSpeak” with regular guests on the panel; Captain Henry J. Hendrix, Jr. USN; Captain Will Dossel, USN (Ret); LCDR Claude Berube, USNR; and YN2 H. Lucien Gauthier, III (SW) USN.

We will be asking each other questions on the above-the-fold subjects of the last year and what we see in the next.

Join in the chat room for to suggest your own questions as well.

Listen in live here or download it later from here or from our iTunes pages here.



I admit that in the past I’ve dreaded this time of year. Not because of Halloween, the fall season, or even the nearing of winter. Nope, I feared the annual arrival of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) leaflet that, without fail, shows up on my desk- even with the door locked- like magic.

The fear isn’t of giving money to a cause but instead the act of doing so. I find that actually filling in the form with a pen is somewhat cumbersome and, well, outdated. In fact, while attempting to fill out the form just today I had some trepidation of doing so for the fact that I may be doing it wrong. If there were only a website I could use…

Enter the modern age of the world wide web and the CFC site CFC Nexus. This was so much easier. The site touts that it only takes about 10 minutes to complete the process- I did it in seven. The hardest part(s) was finding your local donation site on the map or perhaps finding a worthy charity… which is fairly easy (might I suggest the Coast Guard Foundation (10514) or perhaps the Wounded Warrior Project (11425)).

CFC Nexus still allows you to do payroll deduction as most of us have done in the past or you can do a lump sum credit card gift.

So if you haven’t given yet I’d suggest giving the site a try. It’s easy. It’s time saving. It’s the season to give (no, really, it is.)



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