Looming Gaps Facing the USCG

Hanging there (Photo Credit: www.uscg.mil/d9)

The USCG plays a central role in securing ocean-going commerce globally. The transit of goods from Asia to the US to Europe shapes a virtual conveyer belt of goods, which define a central part of the lifeblood of “globalization.”  The opening up of the Arctic and the coming emergence of transit of goods by a Northern Route will reshape this transit in areas entering the inland waterways of North America.  The transit of goods from the Atlantic to North America via the waterways of the Great Lakes is yet another significant transit point.  This week we are publishing an interview with one key area which provides for maritime safety and security for the transit of goods, namely the Great Lakes.

The USCG role is central in doing inspections, coping with environmental degradation or threats of such degradation and of providing for the security of such commerce against what used to be called terrorists but now is called “man caused disasters.”

The challenge for the USCG is the need for personnel, ships, aircraft and related tool sets to do the job.  It is no secret that the recapitalization pressures, the steady-state level of USCG personnel, and the budget downturn, all make this harder to do.  Put bluntly, the USCG needs more resources in a timely manner.  This is the opinion of the SLD team and is a conclusion drawn from a series of interview with USCG personnel dealing with the challenges facing the USCG.

The USCG is an amazing service; the men and woman of the service are among the finest serving the United States and working worldwide with allies and partners.  They don’t complain about their resources but just do with what they have.  But the fact is clear: resource constraints lead to coverage gaps, and to inability to deal with globalization pressures.  There is no magic wand that allows folks to intercept drugs, deal with maritime safety and security, global maritime commerce, inland waterway security and safety issues without the necessary assets.  Bluntly put, the USCG does not have neither the trained personnel nor the equipment necessary to do the job being required by the Congress and the Administration.  We are at a turning point.


***Posted April 28th, 2010