What is the biggest challenge facing the Coast
Guard over the next year?
MICHEL: The biggest challenge is recapitalizing the
Coast Guard fleet, and particularly the surface fleet. We
have so many dynamic changes going on in areas like the
Western Hemisphere and cyber and with the energy renaissance. Those are very dynamic, strategic movements
and they really make it challenging in light of recapitalizing our fleet. The surface fleet in particular is really old,
and I think that’s our biggest challenge right now.
What are the top three priorities in terms of
strategy for the service in the years ahead?
MICHEL: In the Western Hemisphere strategy [released
by the Coast Guard in September], there are three basic
lines of effort: combating networks, securing borders and
safeguarding commerce. All those are pretty well
described in the strategy, but they are pretty revolutionary.
When you are talking about combating networks, you
are talking about network warfare against a very sophisticated adversary. When you are talking about securing
borders, that does not just mean the land borders in the
United States. The last piece about movement of commerce is about keeping the shippers safe.
When you talk about the Arctic, the three basic lines
of effort are increasing domain awareness, governance
and partnerships. The Coast Guard is in the middle of
all those things in that region.
In the cyber realm, it’s all about defending our networks, using cyberspace for mission accomplishment and
Coast Guard balances planning, strategy,
mission execution with need for recapitalization
Coast Guard VADM Charles D. Michel is the deputy commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing and providing operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources to meet national priorities for the service’s missions, programs and services.
Michel is tasked with developing and overseeing the execution of operational planning, policy and international engagement at the strategic level.
Additionally, he establishes and maintains relations with interagency partners and maritime stakeholders to support policy development and
resource acquisition. Michel is charged with ensuring the alignment within
mission areas and optimizing mission execution as the recognized international leader of Maritime Safety, Security and Stewardship.
His previous flag officer assignments include deputy commander, U.S.
Coast Guard Atlantic Area; director, Joint Interagency Task Force South;
military adviser to the secretary of Homeland Security; and director for
governmental and public affairs. On June 24, President Barack Obama
nominated Michel for assignment as the vice commandant of the Coast
Guard, pending confirmation by the Senate. He would replace retired VADM Peter V. Neffenger, who was
sworn in as the new administrator of the Transportation Security Administration on July 4.
Michel discussed the Coast Guard’s aging surface fleet, future challenges in the Arctic and the importance
of recapitalization with Special Correspondent John C. Marcario. Excerpts follow: