State of the Coast Guard

Editors Note: The link to the address has been updated to the “As Presented” from the “As Prepared”.

The Commandant delivered his first State of the Coast Guard Address this afternoon. During this annual address to more than 40,000 Coast Guard members and the American public, Adm. Allen highlighted some of the Coast Guard’s most noteworthy accomplishments in the past year and outlined his priorities for the Coast Guard for the coming year. The Commandant also unveiled a new strategy for meeting the Coast Guard’s responsibilities for protecting and preserving America’s maritime safety, security and stewardship interests.

The U.S. Coast Guard Strategy for Maritime Safety, Security, and Stewardship describes how the Coast Guard will work to safeguard the nation against all threats, hazards, and challenges in the maritime domain, today and in the future.

The overall theme of his address was New Threats, New Challenges, New trategies.

Here’s a little of what he had to say:

There are three things the Coast Guard needs to do:
(1) We need to understand our dramatically changed operating environment;
(2) We must change to sustain and improve mission execution; and
(3) We must be more responsive to the needs of the nation.

It is also time to remove the distinction between our Atlantic and Pacific Coast Guards. Drug trafficking organizations and other transnational threats don’t recognize our organizational boundaries. Our structure at times works against us in operations with Joint Interagency Task Forces and Combatant Commanders whose Operating Areas are not the same as our Area boundaries. It’s time we have one commander in the field responsible for Mission Execution – one single point of accountability completely focused on planning and executing operations. We will do this by combining our Atlantic and Pacific Area command functions into a single Coast Guard Operations Command.

As we navigate the Coast Guard in the 21st Century, we must understand that change is not something that occurs every 5 or 6 years when we are prompted by external events. It is something that is happening every day in our operating environment. We must build a Coast Guard that continually senses change and continually adapts.

Here is what I need from the Coast Guard men and women here with us today, and for all the men and women serving around the world. I need your commitment. I need you to commit to the idea that we need to change and that we can change, together.

You need to understand where the Service is going and how I intend to make the case for change before Congress and the American people. That information is clearly spelled out in two important documents. The first is the Coast Guard Strategy for Maritime Safety, Security and Stewardship that was unveiled here today. The second is the Budget in Brief, an overview of our Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. Everyone needs to read these documents closely.

The past decades have taught us in the Coast Guard to
Respond without question to saves lives and protect property
Use the resources you have
Depend on strength of those who have gone before
We will continue to do that, but we need to have a broader conversation with
America about what we mean when we say port security and maritime
security. I urge to review our strategy and let us know what you think.

The success of this endeavor will be measured not by my commitment, but yours. My challenge is not to force change on the Coast Guard, but to make the Coast Guard understand that change is necessary.
The World is changing and America’s Coast Guard is changing.
I invite you to join me in the journey.

The complete State of the Coast Guard address is available from the Coast Guard website.

Also available for download are:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard Strategy.
  • The Coast Guard Strategy Fact Sheet.
  • The Coast Guard Fiscal Year 2008 Budget in Brief

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