Coast Guard is undermanned by 3,500 enlisted personnel, or almost 10% of its workforce, mandating significant cuts to force capabilities
We have previously reported on recent military recruiting problems, which have affected all branches of the armed forces:
- As Recruiting Numbers Shrink, U.S. Air Force Expands Body Fat Ranges in New Requirements
- Navy Drag Queen Recruiters – Definitive Evidence that the Military has Lost Its Way
- Defense Department has “Drastically Shifted Off Course”
- Military Recruitment Crisis Underway as Biden Admin Continues Emphasis on Wokeness, Vaccine Mandates
These reports show, despite Department of Defense excuses, that the Biden Administration’s woke, transgender makeover of the military is having negative consequences for military recruiting.
Apparently, the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines are not the only national security forces having problems.
From Forbes comes an alarming article concerning the Coast Guard, which has major national security missions to accomplish, including interdicting drug smuggling and illegal immigrants of all stripes on the high seas, maritime search and rescue, and other important missions.
Just for a minor flavor of the incredible risks Coast Guard personnel face when conducting search and rescue, check out this very short introductory video:
The fact that you almost never hear about the work the Coast Guard does every day means they are doing it right.
But now we find out that the Coast Guard faces huge manpower, seagoing ship, and basing reductions from the combined power of recruiting woes and funding cuts, with manpower shortages the major contributing factor.
Recruitment and retention challenges have led the U.S. Coast Guard into a system-wide service retreat. A 3500-person shortfall—a nearly 10% shortage in the enlisted ranks—is forcing the Coast Guard to take ten cutters out of service, transfer five tugs to seasonal activation, and shutter 29 boat stations.
The moves, couched as a bland “AY 24 Force Alignment Initiative”, present an unprecedented loss of maritime capability at a time when the United States is facing an array of complex challenges at sea. But the Coast Guard simply “cannot maintain the same level of operations” going forward.
In the AY24 plan introduction, Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) Heath Jones note that “[c]onducting our missions is often inherently dangerous, and doing so without enough crew puts our members and the American public at increased risk.”
So, what kind of cuts are we talking about? Forbes explains:
The cuts to the Coast Guard cutter fleet are deep and unexpected.
Three east-coast based Reliance-class cutters, the USCGC Confidence (WMEC-619), the USCGC Dauntless(WMEC-624) and the USCGC Dependable (WMEC-626), will each enter layup in mid 2024, becoming little more than in-reserve “parts-barns” for active, in-service cutters. Add in the March retirement of the Decisive (ex-WMEC-629) with the long-planned retirement of the USCGC Steadfast (WMEC-623) later this year, and the loss of Coast Guard cutter capability becomes quite significant.
If the cuts are allowed to go through, the Coast Guard will, the space of two years, have cut their fleet of mid-sized oceanic workhorses by almost 19 percent. And, once the capability is lost, help is not coming anytime soon. Modern replacements, the Offshore Patrol Cutters, are years behind schedule. The first Heritage-class OPC, the future USCGC Argus (OPC-1), is, at best, two years from seeing an operational deployment, and the Stage II Heritage-class cutters may face additional challenges.
Put in naval terms, the Coast Guard cuts are incredibly drastic.
This will have almost immediate effects in the area of drug and illegal immigrant maritime interdiction. Although the southern border gets all the press, many illegals come to the U.S. by sea, as Forbes relates:
The soon-to-depart cutters were not troubled, pier-bound slouches. They made a real difference, and their absence will be felt throughout the United States. USCGC Confidence, returning from a 62-day, 9,000-mile deployment this Fall, halted the flow of some $85 million dollars of illicit substances into the United States and rescued 42-migrants aboard an unsafe, makeshift vessel. In August, USCGC Dauntless completed a 42-day patrol, highlighted by the rescue of an overloaded 60-ft vessel with 274 people aboard.
While old, the ships handled a ferocious operational tempo. In the first 182 days of 2023, slated-to-retire USCGC Dependable was on deployment for 92 of them. While embarked, the ship recovered 1100 pounds of illicit contraband and interdicted/processed some 800 migrants.
Forbes tries to sugar coat the cuts:
The cuts, however painful, make sense. The Reliance-class cutters, all approaching six decades of service, are some of the oldest ships in the Coast Guard’s already venerable fleet. As cutter repair costs and operational casualties grow, the Coast Guard cannot afford to keep the old, solid-state vessels operational, at sea and relevant in the increasingly contested, high-tech maritime….
Action was overdue. Despite a brave face, the Coast Guard has struggled for years to keep remote bases operational and big cutters at sea….
Admiral Fagan’s tough action to cut Coast Guard services is a healthy break from the past. Traditionally, Coast Guard personnel shortfalls were masked, spread across the fleet, leaving the short-handed cutter fleet to muddle through a blistering operational tempo and demanding mission requirements.
Coast Guard commentators are not buying it:
— Harry Heinke (@jaxsurfa) November 3, 2023
— LetitiaGreen MBA MEd (@VaActiveAngels) November 3, 2023
Coast Guard missed recruitment by 10%. Decommissioning 10 cutters, and 29 stations should be wonderful.https://t.co/WnQYu28x5o
— JoeyMagila (@JoeMagila96) November 3, 2023
Holy Shitshow, Batmanhttps://t.co/InCGhBV4U3
— Teegh (T.J.) Marsh (@OtherTerenceJ) November 3, 2023
Could not happen at a worse time https://t.co/JtyHuFsAPe
— Nico Machado (@NicoMachado7) November 3, 2023
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