Coast Guard Submits Unfunded Priorities List

By Jon Harper

Photo: Coast Guard

The Coast Guard has about $2 billion in unmet funding needs for acquisition, construction and improvements for fiscal year 2018, according to the service.

In late July the sea service submitted to Congress a list of unfunded priorities that met the following legislative criteria: they had not been included in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request; they were necessary to fulfill a requirement associated with an operational need; and the commandant would have recommended them for inclusion in the proposed budget had additional resources been available.

Included on the list were $1.55 billion worth of equipment needed to rebuild operational capability, and $438 million for shore construction projects to address infrastructure problems.

“It really comes down to a matter of resources,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said during a recent event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies after the list was submitted.

“We just didn’t have enough planes and we didn’t have enough ships” to meet recent operational requirements, he said. “It comes down to a numbers game and right now those numbers are not stacked in our favor.”

Acquisition needs for fiscal year 2018 that didn’t make it into the president’s budget request included: $750 million in additional funding to support construction of a new heavy icebreaker; $125 million for the ninth national security cutter; $100 million for two fast response cutters; $400 million for four HC-130J aircraft; $70 million for long range command-and-control aircraft; and $5 million for land-based unmanned aerial systems.

The president’s 2018 budget request called for about $1.2 billion in spending on Coast Guard acquisitions. By comparison, the unfunded requirements totaled $1.99 billion.
In recent months Zukunft has been vocal about his views that the sea service has been chronically underfunded.

“When you answer to 22 [congressional] committees … you find yourself doing more with less,” he said at CSIS. “You have to do these things by law but you haven’t been funded to do that.

“We’re the only military service that finds itself in our operating expense in the basement of the Budget Control Act,” he said. “My other service chief counterparts — they lament the day they ever see the [BCA] floor. And as I’m sitting in the basement looking up at the floor, I’m here to say the view from the basement is not that pretty.

It’s like the New York Mets of 1962 — you have no place to go but up. And we must go up.”


Topics: Maritime Security, Shipbuilding, Homeland Security

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