Asking Too Much?
By AMY L. WITTMAN, Editor in Chief
The missions performed by the
men and women in
the U.S. Coast Guard
are as varied as they
They tend buoys on
inland waterways, establish lines of communication for firefighters and perform
daring rescues on the
high seas. They perform ship inspections and drug interdiction operations.
They protect our ports as well as our
troops and assets in the Persian Gulf.
The United States asks a great
deal of its Coast Guard, and the service rises to its many challenges
despite aging assets — some buoy
tenders are more than 50 years old
— tight budgets and an ever-increas-ing mission portfolio. What the service does not need is legislation that
hinders its ability to do its job.
The House passed H.R. 2830 —
the Coast Guard Authorization Act
of 2008 — on April 24, and the
Coast Guard leadership has raised
the alarm regarding some provisions
in that legislation, primarily regarding the security of liquefied natural
gas (LNG) and marine safety. The
full Senate has yet to consider its
version of the bill, S. 1892, which
includes similar language.
Section 720 of H.R. 2830 basically would require the Coast Guard to
be the sole provider of security for an
LNG vessel — from the moment it
enters into the service’s security
regime, all the way into the terminal,
while it’s at the terminal and then out
to the point where it no longer falls
under that security regime. The fundamental difference from the current
construct, built as
part of the Maritime
Security Act after
9/11, is that it removes the partners
that now play a role
in the security process: industry, state
and local agencies.
The federal government should not take
over that sole responsibility.
“The Coast Guard is successful
because commanders in the field can
make decisions to direct resources,
to rate the capabilities to the point of
highest risk at any given time. This
would prohibit that,” Rear Adm.
Keith Taylor, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for resources and
chief financial officer, told Navy
Leaguers attending a Board of
Directors’ committee session in May.
Another concern involves a section on marine safety, which would
specify positions on the Coast
Guard’s organizational chart by
name, qualification and duty.
Current legislation allows only the
most senior leaders to determine
how leadership positions should be
placed or graded.
Congress must not approve legislation that undermines the authority of the commandant or the secretary of Homeland Security, or dimin-ishes the Coast Guard’s capacity to
do its job in the most efficient and
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE
NAVY LEAGUE OF THE UNITED STATES
Volume 51, Number 8, August 2008
J. Michael McGrath
Stephen R. Pietropaoli
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Amy L. Wittman
Peter E. Atkinson
Richard R. Burgess
John C. Marcario
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Charles A. Hull
Jean B. Reynolds
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