Leadership: September 9, 2003

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Before September 11, 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard was planning a $17 billion replacement program for its aging fleet of seagoing ships. But then the Coast Guard found itself part of the Department of Homeland Security and responsible for increasing the security for America's ports. Congress didn't want to provide billions for new ships, plus even more money for additional port security equipment. Now the Department of Defense has offered to help out by relieving the Coast Guard of it's traditional assignment to become part of the U.S. Navy in wartime. The "coasties" were shocked by this, as the Coast Guard sailors consider themselves, well, better sailors than their opposite numbers in the navy. In peacetime, the average coast guard sailor is going to see more action in bad weather, or handling weapons, than the average navy sailor. The Coast Guard goes after smugglers, and the ones trying to sneak in drugs are often armed and dangerous. The coast guard takes great pride in its service as part of the navy in wartime. The Department of Defense will probably back off on their offer. Actually, one reason for the offer was not to be helpful, but in reaction to Coast Guard refusals to provide ships to guard navy anchorages overseas. The coast guard turned down some of these requests because all there resources were being used for anti-terror operations in the US. All of this will probably lead to an enlargement of the Coast Guard, at least in the short term, as they simply have a lot more to do than they did in the Summer of 2001. 

 


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