The Senate Commerce Committee's Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on the Coast Guard Operational Readiness/Mission Balance/FY 2006 Budget Request for Thursday, March 17, 2005, at 10 a.m. in room 253 of the Russell Building. The scheduled witnesses are: Admiral Thomas Collins, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Franklin Welch, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Margaret Wrightson, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Team Government Accountability Office Click here for video of this hearing.
Daniel K. InouyeSenator
Opening Statement of Senator Daniel K. Inouye Hearing on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Operational Readiness, Missions Balance, and Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Request Thursday, March 17, 2005
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Kenneth MeadInspector GeneralU.S. Department of Transportation
Witness Panel 2
Master Chief Franklin WelchMaster Chief Petty OfficerU.S. Coast Guard
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U. S. COAST GUARD STATEMENT OF THE MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER OF THE COAST GUARD FRANKLIN A. WELCH ON THE FY06 BUDGET REQUEST BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES & COAST GUARD COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, & TRANSPORTATION U. S. SENATE MARCH 17, 2005Madam Chair and distinguished members of this subcommittee, I am once again very thankful for the opportunity to appear before you to present my views in support of the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard family that I am honored to represent. I am very proud of our service members and equally proud and thankful for the tremendous support provided by this subcommittee during the 108th Congress. I look forward to continuing an equally supportive relationship with you and the 109th Congress as well. I am also grateful for House support of S. 2486, the Veteran’s Benefits Improvement Act of 2004, S. 2484, the Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act of 2004, and H.R. 3936, the Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 2004. Legislative support of these acts formally recognizes the sacrifice and dedication of our many veterans and I ask for your continued support in ensuring that the men and women who serve or have served our country, remain well-served by our country. The Coast Guard has accomplished much in the past year thanks to the dedication and unwavering support of Coast Guard men and women stationed throughout this country and assigned globally. I travel extensively to meet with our service members, to share information with them, and more importantly to listen to their ideas and concerns. These personal interactions enable me to better represent their needs and interests. One of the things I hear loud and clear from our troops is how they have benefited greatly from the reductions made between the military and private sector pay gaps. The cumulative positive impact of military pay raises coupled with significant reductions of out of pocket housing expenses has been well received and is certainly well deserved. I believe they are a big reason for our recent workforce retention trends being at record high levels. Despite increased operational and personnel tempos by all components of our service, our recruiting results continue to remain impressive. In FY2004, we slightly exceeded (by nine) our active duty-recruiting mission of 3,800 enlisted accessions. In addition to meeting our numerical goal we also made significant progress in our efforts to further diversify our work force. FY2004 minority accessions represented 36% of the total. This represents an increase of 11% from FY2003. We are enjoying similar success in our critical reserve component accessions. Retention rates also remain extremely high. The current retention rate of our enlisted work force is 89.6%, with 1.2% of those accessing to our officer corps. As we continue work force expansion, successful recruiting and retention efforts are mitigating many of the challenges associated with targeted growth endeavors. Growth has produced a temporary service issue that many people refer to as “juniority.” This means that junior personnel are often filling senior positions, resulting in significant billet to pay grade mismatches. However, I prefer to define the situation as one of “opportunity” for the younger members of our Coast Guard, who continually impress me with their can-do attitudes and ability to accomplish the mission. There are many factors driving our high retention rates but I view our retention successes as being the key measurable result of our Commandant’s commitment to our people. With your budgetary support, he is fulfilling his vision, “The Coast Guard committed to our people…and our people committed to the Coast Guard.” There has never been a period during my career in which so many people-oriented initiatives have been realized, including: Raising the Visibility of the Coast Guard. We have wisely invested in a modern, relevant and attractive branding campaign to nationally advertise and promote the roles and missions of the Coast Guard, as well as the opportunities afforded the men and women of our service. The Shield of Freedom campaign is vitally important in attracting a diverse workforce that will lead the Coast Guard in accomplishing its vital Homeland Security missions. Providing Professional Development Opportunities. The Coast Guard is making every effort to better prepare our people for success. Recent accomplishments have placed a permanent senior enlisted cadre within the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets for the purpose of providing enlisted perspective, mentorship and experienced practical guidance for our future officer corps. As I mentioned during last year’s hearing, we were working to establish a Command Master Chief course that would better prepare our senior enlisted leaders with tools to blend personnel representation and command advisory roles. We piloted that course last year and based on tremendously positive reviews we will continue with the course in CY2005. The introduction of our much-anticipated Enlisted Professional Military Education Program has also been completed with equally positive feedback. We have also significantly increased student throughput for our Leadership and Management School; a course designed to increase the effectiveness of our mid-grade enlisted work force and our junior officers. In addition to expanding our resident training opportunities, our Leadership Development Center in New London, Connecticut, has designed a comprehensive Unit Leadership Development Program (ULDP) that is mandatory at the unit level. A subset to the ULDP is the first term-first unit requirement to complete an Individual Development Plan that was designed by our Command Master Chiefs in concert with our training branch at Coast Guard Headquarters. I am proud of collaborative efforts such as these, because they represent a renewed sense of alignment between those with oversight responsibilities and those charged with implementation. Providing Personal Development Opportunities. Recognizing the importance of continuing education for our people, the Coast Guard has continued its support of tuition assistance funding that defers the rising cost of education. In FY2004, the Coast Guard authorized 22,212 courses at an expense of $12.2M. As of 7 January 2005, tuition assistance commitments already totaled $5.1M. We consider these human capital investments key to the development of our current work force, and critical to remaining an employer of choice for those contemplating Coast Guard service. It is imperative that we remain competitive with our sister services of the Department of Defense, thereby underscoring the importance of discretionary funding as provided for in the President’s FY2006 budget. In addition to supporting our people who opt to pursue higher education, we remain committed to the health and well being of our Coast Guard men and women. To that end, we have mandated use of personal fitness plans for all of our service members as part of the Coast Guard fitness program. These initiatives serve to enhance the important sense of self worth of our people and I am proud of our focus. We have more to do, but these tangible work force enhancements are highly visible to our people and are indicative of our commitment to the workforce. Again, I appreciate this subcommittee’s support that has enabled the Coast Guard to remain attractive as a service that values our most important asset – our people. With your support, the Coast Guard continues to increase its authorized end strengths. In the post 9/11 environment it is essential that the principal agency charged with maritime safety and security be adequately staffed to perform its many missions. We are thankful for the authority to increase work force end strengths and we are doing so in the most responsible and deliberate manner. In addition to ensuring that we are appropriately staffed to effectively meet our many responsibilities, we are also mindful of the many critical quality of life needs of our people. Military pay is the single-most important quality of life and compensatory issue that we face. Without question, the military pay raises of the past four years have been a key contributor to accession and retention success. We seek your continued support in enabling the armed services to remain competitive with the private sector in order for us to attract and retain the skilled and motivated work force that our country must rely upon. Housing remains a chief concern of our work force. As advertised, basic allowance for housing (BAH) reform has eliminated out of pocket expenses for housing in most areas throughout our country and reduced it in all areas; the aggregate impact of BAH reform has been to reduce uncompensated housing expenses by approximately 20%. This effort is significant, commendable and appreciated by our service members and their families who reside in areas in which private sector housing is desirable and attainable. We must also remain mindful of the needs of our people who do not have access to this ideal housing situation. Throughout my personal engagements with our workforce, I have witnessed first-hand the poor materiel condition of government owned housing units that we mandate for many of our people. As this subcommittee knows, the Coast Guard faces many challenges to address its shore infrastructure maintenance and recapitalization programs, and has deferred many projects, which is having direct and negative consequences to our service members and their families. It also negatively impacts the ability of our single and unaccompanied personnel to secure adequate housing because our owned unaccompanied personnel housing (UPH) is often in the same inadequate condition as our family housing. In an effort to enhance quality of life as it relates to deteriorating shore infrastructure we have expanded our availability of leased housing options to our service members who are E-4 and below assigned ashore with less than four years time in service. We are also pursuing privatization efforts, including the transfer of 318 units located at Red Hill, Hawaii, to the U.S. Army. On October 1, 2004, the Army subsequently transferred maintenance of their Hawaii inventory (over 7,000 units) to Actus Land Leasing with full financial closing and property transfer. In the greater New Orleans area, we have entered into a limited partnership with Patrician C.G. LLC. As I have seen during visits to Department of Defense housing facilities, military housing privatization, provides substantial benefits for limited up-front government investment. We currently have privatization feasibility studies underway in Alaska and Cape May, New Jersey. These studies will provide us with an assessment of the ability to privatize housing in those locations. The Alaska study, which includes Kodiak, Valdez, Cordova (our worst), Sitka, Petersburg and Homer, is scheduled for completion by next spring. The Cape May study will follow closely behind the Alaska study. We have also deemed areas absent private sector and government owned housing as Critical Housing Areas (CHA’s). This designation enables our people to receive BAH rates higher than the locales that they are assigned to so that they can afford housing in these high demand areas. Although this initiative may encourage family separation, the alternative of forced financial hardship is unacceptable. The Coast Guard has twelve such CHA designated locations. They are: Eastern Shore, Virginia; Buxton, North Carolina; Montauk, New York; Cape May, New Jersey; Abbeville, Louisiana; Port O’Connor, Texas; Coastal Maine; Carrabelle and Marathon/Islamorada, Florida; Provincetown, Massachusetts; Oxford, Maryland; and Marinette, Wisconsin. Additionally, any area designated as a CHA by the U.S. Navy applies to the Coast Guard. Child care is also an expensive and problematic issue for our service members with dependent children. High child care costs impact our workforce throughout all geographical areas but particularly those assigned to locations inaccessible to Coast Guard Child Development Centers and/or Department of Defense facilities. Due to the typically remote locations in which we serve, it is difficult, if not impossible to maintain parity with the other armed services in respects to providing our people with quality and affordable child care options. Recognizing the financial burdens placed upon our people, we have recently chartered a child care study to assess the needs of our work force and to identify areas in which we may make appropriate interventions. This is a key quality of life issue and we appreciate your understanding of the impact of the extremely high cost of child care nationwide. Medical and dental care issues remain chief and common concerns of our service members and their families. As I have testified in the past, these issues affect the Coast Guard in unique and sometimes difficult ways. The Coast Guard continues to work with the Department of Defense to resolve these challenges, and we are looking forward to the implementation of the new TRICARE contract, which we hope will help rectify some of the shortcomings we have experienced with TRICARE in the past. In addition to quality of life concerns and initiatives, we also remain ever mindful of the needs of our people in the workplace; specifically our responsibility to provide our service members with safe, reliable and effective platforms from which to operate. As I have testified during the past two years, our front-line fleet of cutters continues to deteriorate; resulting in significantly degraded readiness capabilities and equally degraded crew morale. It is important to note that during FY1999, our Deepwater fleet experienced 267 unscheduled maintenance days. In FY2004, the fleet had 742 unscheduled maintenance days. This increase does not represent a lack of crew effort, but is simply indicative of old cutters and old subsystems – getting even older. Fleet readiness issues are having an adverse impact on our presence in the maritime domain, and our men and women must work even harder to overcome the deficiencies associated with our fleet. If it weren’t for the ingenuity, professionalism and the sacrifices made of our crews, our cutter fleet would not be in service today, and that applies to every class of cutter that we have. The demise of our fleet can no longer be overcome at the expense of our people, and as this subcommittee knows, our Deepwater recapitalization project is essential in order for us to meet the demands that face our service today. We are very grateful for your historical support and understanding of our Deepwater initiative and urge your support of the President’s $966M FY2006 Deepwater request, which includes funds both for new vessels and for legacy medium-endurance cutter maintenance to help address the problem of our aging fleet. To conclude, let me again offer my sincere appreciation to this subcommittee for affording me the opportunity to present my views before you. I trust that the American public is rapidly coming to know the broad range of missions that the Coast Guard is responsible for, as well as the global context in which we are involved. I could not be prouder of our Coast Guard men and women than I am today. Collectively, our active duty, reservists, civilians, auxiliarists, and their families alike continue to make endless sacrifices to ensure that our service remains “Always Ready,” and that our country remains always safe! Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the tens of thousands of people that I represent, I am thankful for your service in support of our nation’s Coast Guard and I look forward to your continued support as we aggressively transform our service. I welcome any questions that you or this subcommittee may have.
Admiral Thomas H. Collins
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U. S. COAST GUARD STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL THOMAS H. COLLINS ON THE FY06 BUDGET REQUEST BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES & COAST GUARD COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, & TRANSPORTATION U. S. SENATE MARCH 17, 2005Introduction Good morning Madam Chair and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. It is a pleasure to be here today to discuss the Coast Guard’s FY 2006 budget request and the positive impact it will have on the Coast Guard’s ability to secure America’s maritime borders, aid persons in distress, and facilitate the safe and efficient flow of commerce. On 9/10/01, our primary maritime focus was on the safe and efficient use of America’s waterways. Since 9/11, we have made great progress in securing America’s waterways, while continuing to facilitate the safe and efficient flow of commerce. There is no doubt that work remains, but there is also no doubt that we continue to improve maritime homeland security each and every day – thanks in large part to the continued strong budgetary support of the administration, congress, and this committee. The Coast Guard’s FY 2006 budget continues that support, proposing discretionary budget authority of $6.9 billion, an eleven percent increase over the comparable 2005 funding level. The budget provides the resources necessary to continue recapitalizing the Coast Guard’s aging cutters, boats, aircraft, and supporting infrastructure, while building out maritime safety and security capabilities essential to meeting present and future mission demands. Getting Results The Coast Guard’s overarching goal is to manage, and ultimately reduce, terror-related risk in the Maritime Domain. Doing so requires identifying and intercepting threats well before they reach U.S. shores by conducting layered, multi-agency security operations; while strengthening the security posture of strategic economic and military ports. As we seek to reduce maritime risk, we continually strive to balance each of the Coast Guard’s mission requirements to ensure no degradation in service to the American public. Looking at their accomplishments, it is clear that Coast Guard men and women continue rising to the challenge and delivering tangible and important results across both homeland security and non-homeland security mission-programs. No amount of new technology or capability enhances security more than our personnel. They are the indispensable link in any strategy and I am continually impressed by their ingenuity, courage, and dedication. Coast Guard personnel have embraced these priorities, have integrated them in daily operations, and have achieved impressive results. In 2004, Coast Guard personnel: · Prevented more than 376,000 pounds of illegal narcotics from reaching the U.S. including seizing over 241,000 pounds of cocaine, shattering the previous record of 138,000 pounds. · Interdicted nearly 11,000 undocumented migrants attempting to enter the country illegally by sea. · Dispatched several cutters, aircraft, and personnel for four months as part of U.S. efforts to stabilize Haiti after the departure of President Aristide. · Aggressively conducted more than 36,000 port security patrols, 6,900 air patrols, and 19,000 security boardings; escorted 7,200 vessels; and maintained more than 115 security zones to reduce maritime risk. · Provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including 42 personnel, one 378-foot High Endurance Cutter (WHEC), and four C-130 aircraft, to the governments of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004. · In support of Operation Iraqi Freedom the Coast Guard protected, safely secured, and escorted to sea over 200 military sealift departures at ten different major U.S. seaports, carrying over 25 million square feet of indispensable cargo. · Deployed two additional patrol boats and two additional LEDETs to DoD’s Central Command joining four Coast Guard patrol boats, two LEDETs, one Port Security Unit (PSU), and supporting logistics and command and control support elements already participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. · In response to a maritime gap in national law enforcement and counter-terrorism (LE/CT) capability, they stood up an offensive force able to execute across the full spectrum of LE and CT response in support of homeland security and homeland defense objectives. This capability was a critical force addition in protecting the maritime boundaries of several National Special Security Events including the G8 Summit and Democratic and Republican National Conventions. · Leveraged the Coast Guard’s 34,000 member Coast Guard Auxiliary workforce, receiving approximately 3 million volunteer hours of maritime safety and security services. Before 9/11 we had no formal international or domestic maritime security regime for ports, port facilities, and ships – with the exception of cruise ships. Partnering with domestic and international stakeholders, we now have both a comprehensive domestic security regime and an international security convention in place. Both have been in force since July 1, 2004. In executing the requirements of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) code, the Coast Guard has: · Reviewed and approved 9,580 domestic vessel security plans and 3,119 domestic facility security plans. · Overseen the development of 43 Area Maritime Security Plans and Committees, · Verified security plan implementation on 8,100 foreign vessels. · Completed domestic port security assessments for 54 of the 55 militarily and economically strategic ports, with the last assessment in the final stages of completion. · Visited 14 key foreign countries to assess the effectiveness of anti-terrorism measures and implementation of ISPS code requirements. An additional 21 countries are scheduled for visits by June 2005. Of course the Coast Guard has mission requirements beyond homeland security and once again thanks to the tremendous dedication of our personnel, last year provided more evidence of the superb contributions they make each and every day. In 2004, Coast Guard personnel: · Saved the lives of nearly 5,500 mariners in distress and responded to more than 32,000 calls for rescue assistance. · Conducted more than 115,800 recreational vessel safety checks. · Conducted 10,000 foreign commercial vessel boardings. · Boarded more than 4,500 fishing vessels to enforce safety and fisheries management regulations. · Partnered with Federal and state agencies to enhance enforcement of Marine Protected Species regulations. · Conducted more than 3,000 inspections aboard mobile offshore drilling units. · Responded to nearly 24,000 reports of water pollution or hazardous material releases. · Ensured more than 1 million safe passages of commercial vessels. · Maintained more than 50,000 federal aids to navigation, responding to and correcting over 13,000 aids to navigation discrepancies. · Provided 99.0% availability of Differential Global Positioning System coverage to over 95,000 miles of U.S. waterways. With your support, the Coast Guard continues its tradition of operational excellence and exceptional service to the nation. I am proud of the tireless efforts of our personnel who continue to meet every challenge both at home and abroad. Reducing Maritime Risk Despite these accomplishments, there is still much to do. Today’s global maritime safety and security environment demands a new level of operations specifically directed against terrorism without degrading other critical maritime safety and security missions. Most importantly, the Coast Guard must implement capabilities necessary to mitigate maritime security risks in the post-9/11 world. In terms of threat, vulnerability, and consequence there are few more valuable and vulnerable targets than the U.S. maritime transportation system. Threat: While the 9/11 commission notes the continuing threat against our aviation system, it also states that “opportunities to do harm are as great, or greater, in maritime or surface transportation.” Vulnerability: The maritime transportation system annually accommodates 6.5 million cruise ship passengers, 51,000 port calls by over 7,500 foreign ships, at more than 360 commercial ports spread out over 95,000 miles of coastline. The vastness of this system and its widespread and diverse critical infrastructure leave the nation vulnerable to terrorist acts within our ports, waterways, and coastal zones, as well as exploitation of maritime commerce as a means of transporting terrorists and their weapons. Consequence: Contributing nearly $750 billion to U.S. gross domestic product annually and handling 95% of all overseas trade each year – the value of the U.S. maritime domain and the consequence of any significant attack cannot be understated. Independent analysis and recent experiences on 9/11 and the west coast dock workers strike demonstrates an economic impact of a forced closure of U.S. ports for a period of only eight days in excess of $58 billion to the U.S. economy. Since 9/11 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Coast Guard have made significant strides to secure our homeland. However, maritime safety and security gaps remain. These gaps present risks that we must work to reduce, and we continue that work within the FY 2006 budget. The Coast Guard continues to guide its efforts by implementing policies, seeking resources, and deploying capabilities through the lens of our maritime security strategy. However, continued risk reduction is contingent upon Coast Guard readiness and capacity. Without these basic building blocks, implementation of maritime security strategies will not be sustainable. With that in mind, the priorities of the FY 2006 budget are to recapitalize the Coast Guard as a necessary foundation to implementing the maritime security strategy, as well as ensuring we continually enhance mission performance across the entire suite of Coast Guard mission requirements. Recapitalize the Coast Guard The FY 2006 budget continues the urgently needed recapitalization of our cutters, boats, aircraft and support infrastructure to reverse declining readiness trends and enhance operational capabilities to meet today’s maritime safety and security threats. The majority of the Coast Guard’s operational assets will reach the end of their anticipated service lives by 2010, resulting in rising operating and maintenance costs, reduced mission effectiveness, unnecessary risks, and excessive wear and tear on our people. Listed below are some specific examples highlighting alarming system failure rates, increased maintenance requirements, and the subsequent impact on mission effectiveness: · HH-65 helicopter in-flight engine power losses occurred at a rate of 329 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours in FY 2004. This is up from a FY 2003 rate of 63 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. The comparable Federal Aviation Administration acceptable standard for a mishap of this severity is approximately 1 per 100,000 flight hours. The engine loss rate has resulted in flight and operational restrictions and high levels of risk to our aircrews. Re-engining the HH-65 will remain the Coast Guard’s highest legacy asset priority until complete. · The 110-foot Patrol Boat fleet has experienced 23 hull breaches requiring emergency dry docks. The resultant loss in operational days is unsustainable, and risks to our personnel are unacceptable. By the end of 2005, the Coast Guard will have taken delivery of eight reconfigured 123-foot patrol boats, which are upgraded 110-foot patrol boats designed to sustain this cutter class until replacement with the Integrated Deepwater System’s Fast Response Cutter. · Our high and medium endurance cutters are experiencing sub-system failures due to old and unserviceable systems. The 378-foot WHEC fleet averages one engine room casualty, with potential to escalate to a fire, on every patrol. One-quarter of our fleet have recently missed operations due to unscheduled maintenance required to repair failing sub-systems. The total number of unscheduled maintenance days for the major cutter (medium and high endurance cutters) fleet has skyrocketed from 85 days in FY 1999 to 358 days in FY 2004 (over a 400% increase). This loss of operational cutter days in 2004 equates to losing two major cutters, or 5% of our major fleet for an entire year. The 2006 budget includes funding for six mission effectiveness projects to help sustain the medium endurance cutter fleet, and funds construction of the third National Security Cutter, the replacement for the Coast Guard’s high endurance cutter class. These same Deepwater assets are integral to the Coast Guard’s ability to perform its missions, such as migrant and drug interdiction operations, ports waterways and coastal security, fisheries enforcement, and search and rescue. In 2004, deepwater legacy assets made invaluable contributions to America’s maritime safety and security: · Operation ABLE SENTRY blanketed the coastline of Haiti with Coast Guard Deepwater assets, which interdicted over 1,000 illegal migrants during this operation and deterred many thousand more from taking to sea in unsafe boats. · The 378-foot Coast Guard Cutter GALLATIN, and its Airborne Use of Force (AUF) capable helicopter seized more than 24,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $768 million and detained 27 suspected smugglers in the span of seven weeks. · The Coast Guard's Deepwater cutters and aircraft patrolled over 28,000 hours in direct support of maritime homeland security missions. 110-foot patrol boats alone patrolled 13,000 hours supporting port and coastal security missions including, cruise ship escorts, critical infrastructure protection, and countless security boardings. · Working in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service during the national political conventions, 270-foot Medium Endurance cutters and 110-foot patrol boats provided maritime security, enforced security zones, and served as command and control platforms coordinating maritime traffic. Deepwater aircraft, equipped with the AUF package, provided air security and conducted maritime security patrols. Despite spending increasing amounts to maintain operational assets, the Coast Guard is experiencing a continuing decline in fleet readiness. Legacy cutters are now operating free of major equipment casualties (equipment failures that significantly impact mission performance) less than 50% of the time, despite the investment per operational day increasing by over 50% over the last six years. The resulting “readiness gap” negatively impacts both the quantity and quality of Coast Guard “presence” – critical to our ability to accomplish all missions. The FY 2006 budget continues the urgently-needed Coast Guard fleet recapitalization to address this readiness gap. The Integrated Deepwater System is the enduring solution to both the Coast Guard’s declining legacy asset readiness concerns and the need to implement enhanced maritime security capabilities to reduce maritime risk in the post-9/11 world. Continued implementation of the Deepwater program will recapitalize the Coast Guard fleet and introduce much needed surveillance, detection/clarification, intercept, interdiction and command and control capabilities. The President’s FY 2006 budget provides $966 million for the Integrated Deepwater System, taking aim on reversing the Coast Guard’s declining readiness trends and transforming the Coast Guard with enhanced capabilities to meet current and future mandates through system-wide recapitalization and modernization of Coast Guard cutters, aircraft, and associated sub-systems. This level of investment in the Integrated Deepwater System is paramount in providing the Coast Guard with the capability and capacity essential to meeting our nation’s maritime homeland security needs; providing a layered defense throughout ports, waterways, coastal regions and extending far offshore, as well as sustaining other mission area efforts, such as search and rescue and living marine resources. Funding included for legacy asset sustainment projects, such as HH-65 re-engining, and WMEC mission effectiveness projects, is absolutely critical to sustain capabilities today, while acquisition of new and enhanced Deepwater assets is vital to ensuring the Coast Guard has the right capabilities tomorrow. The Coast Guard’s deepwater assets are not the only capital assets in urgent need of recapitalization or replacement. The FY 2006 budget also includes funding for: · Response Boat-Medium - replaces the aging 41-foot Utility Boat fleet with an enhanced platform better able to meet search and rescue and homeland security mission requirements. · Shore Infrastructure Recapitalization - funds critical projects such as the Coast Guard Academy Chase Hall Barracks rehabilitation, Group/Marine Safety Office Long Island Sound building replacement, and construction of a breakwater to protect boats and mooring facilities at Coast Guard Station Neah Bay Breakwater. These projects will not only improve habitability and quality of life of our people, but also increase effectiveness of the various missions these facilities support. · High Frequency (HF) Communications System Recapitalization - replaces unserviceable, shore-side, high power HF transmitters, restoring long-range communications system availability to enhance Coast Guard mission performance and help meet International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty HF emergency distress monitoring requirements. · Rescue 21 - continues implementation of Rescue 21, vastly improving coastal command and control and communications interoperability with other Federal, state, and local agencies. Recapitalizing the Coast Guard is the indispensable foundation of our ability to continue improving maritime security while facilitating the flow of commerce. It is on this foundation that the FY 2006 budget continues to build out Coast Guard capabilities necessary to reduce risk and implement the maritime strategy for homeland security. Implement the Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security Considering the vast economic utility of our ports, waterways, and coastal approaches, it is clear that a terrorist incident against our marine transportation system would have a disastrous impact on global shipping, international trade, and the world economy in addition to the strategic military value of many ports and waterways. The four pillars of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security are in direct alignment with the Department of Homeland Security’s strategic goals of Awareness, Prevention, Protection, Response and Recovery. These pillars guide our efforts to reduce America’s vulnerabilities to terrorism by enhancing our ability to prevent terrorist attacks and limit the damage to our nation’s ports, coastal infrastructure and population centers in the event a terrorist attack occurs. First, we seek to increase our awareness and knowledge of what is happening in the maritime arena, not just here in American waters, but globally. We need to know which vessels are in operation, the names of the crews and passengers, and the ship’s cargo, especially those inbound for U.S. ports. Global Maritime Domain Awareness is critical to separate the law-abiding sailor from the anomalous threat. Second, to help prevent terrorist attacks we have developed and continue to improve an effective maritime security regime – both domestically and internationally. Third, we seek to better protect critical maritime infrastructure and improve our ability to respond to suspect activities by increasing our operational presence in ports, coastal zones and beyond … to implement a layered security posture, a defense-in-depth. Finally, we are improving our ability to respond to and aid in recovery if there were an actual terrorist attack. Below is an overview of each of the four pillars of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security and supporting FY 2006 budget initiatives: Enhance Global Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). The core of our MDA efforts revolve around the development and employment of accurate information, intelligence, and targeting of vessels, cargo, crews and passengers – and extending this well beyond our traditional maritime boundaries. All DHS components are working to provide a layered defense through collaborative efforts with our international partners to counter and manage security risks long before they reach a U.S. port. The FY 2006 budget significantly advances our efforts to implement comprehensive MDA, including funding for: · Automatic Identification System (AIS) - accelerates deployment of nationwide AIS throughout regional Coast Guard command centers. · Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) - provides additional MPA resources to fill documented flight hour gaps in support of detection, surveillance and tracking activities. · Common Operational Picture (COP) - deploys COP throughout Coast Guard command centers to fuse surveillance and tracking information from MDA systems such as AIS, Rescue 21, and Ports and Waterways Safety System (PAWSS). · Radiological-Nuclear (Rad/Nuc) Detection and Response – consistent with the President’s Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), this initiative increases the ability of Coast Guard cutters and Maritime Safety and Security Teams to detect Rad/Nuc materials to prevent proliferation in support of terrorist operations; and respond to incidents involving release of these dangerous substances. · Integrated Deepwater System – Deepwater funding will continue C4ISR enhancements aboard legacy assets and development of the Common Operational Picture for new Deepwater platforms. Create and Oversee Maritime Security Regime. This element of our strategy focuses on both domestic and international efforts and includes initiatives related to MTSA implementation, International Maritime Organization regulations such as the International Ship & Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, as well as improving supply chain security and identity security processes. As I mentioned previously, the Coast Guard has made a critical first step in ensuring the security of our ports and protecting our nation’s economic prosperity by implementing the requirements set forth in the MTSA of 2002. The FY 2006 budget provides the resources necessary to continue robust enforcement of the MTSA, which includes: · Continued verification of an estimated 3,100 domestic facility and 9,500 domestic vessel security requirements (plans must be revalidated every five years, upon a change of ownership, or significant change in operations), including working with vessel, company, and facility security officers. · A robust Port State Control program to ensure compliance with international security requirements of over 8,100 foreign vessels calling on the U.S. annually. · Development and continuous updates and improvements to the National and 43 Area Maritime Security plans. · Assessment of the anti-terrorism measures in place in approximately 140 foreign countries with which the U.S. conducts trade to ensure compliance with international standards. Increase Operational Presence. Our collective efforts to increase operational presence in ports and coastal zones focus not only on adding more people, boats and ships to force structures but making the employment of those resources more effective through the application of technology, information sharing and intelligence support. The FY 2006 budget focuses resources toward increasing both the quantity and quality of Coast Guard operational presence by providing funding for: · Airborne Use of Force (AUF) capability – deploys organic AUF capability to five Coast Guard Air Stations, increasing the ability to respond to maritime security threats. · Enhanced Cutter Boat Capability – replaces existing obsolete and unstable cutter boats on the entire WHEC/WMEC fleet with the more capable Cutter Boat – Over the Horizon and replaces aging, unsafe boat davit systems on 210-foot WMECs. · Increase Port Presence and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Transport Security - provides additional Response Boat-Smalls and associated crews to increase presence to patrol critical infrastructure patrols, enforce security zones, and perform high interest vessel escorts in strategic ports throughout the nation. Provides additional boat crews and screening personnel at key LNG hubs such as Cove Point, MD and Providence, RI to enhance LNG tanker and waterside security. · Enhanced Maritime Safety and Security Team (E-MSST) – Reallocates existing Coast Guard resources to immediately fill an existing gap in national maritime Law Enforcement and Counter-Terrorism (LE/CT) capability. Permanent establishment of E-MSST Chesapeake, VA will provide an offensive DHS force able to execute across the full spectrum of LE and CT response in support of homeland security and homeland defense objectives, including CT response capability for scheduled security events out to 50 nautical miles from shore and augments to interagency assets in high visibility venues such as National Special Security Events (NSSEs). · Integrated Deepwater System - Continued investment in Deepwater will greatly improve the Coast Guard’s maritime presence starting at America’s ports, waterways, and coasts and extending seaward to wherever the Coast Guard needs to be present or to take appropriate maritime action. Deepwater provides the capability to identify, interdict, board, and where warranted seize vessels or people engaged in illegal or terrorist activity at sea or on the ports, waterways, or coast of America. Improve Response and Recovery Posture. Understanding the challenge of defending 26,000 miles of navigable waterways and 361 ports against every conceivable threat at every possible time, we are also aggressively working to improve our response capabilities and readiness. While many of the increases in MDA and operational presence augment our collective response and recovery posture, the FY 2006 budget funds initiatives that will increase our ability to adequately manage operations and coordinate resources during maritime threat response or recovery operations: · High Frequency (HF) Communications System Recapitalization - replaces unserviceable, shore-side, high power HF transmitters to restore long-range communications system availability enhancing the Coast Guard’s ability to coordinate response activities. · Continued Deployment of Rescue 21 – the Coast Guard’s maritime 911 command, control and communications system in our ports, waterways, and coastal areas. This system provides Federal, state and local first responders with interoperable maritime communications capability, greater area coverage, enhanced system reliability, voice recorder replay functionality, and direction finding capability. Enhance Mission Performance Lastly, we must continue to leverage the Coast Guard’s unique blend of authorities, capabilities, competencies and partnerships to enhance performance across the full suite of Coast Guard mission requirements. The Coast Guard is the Nation’s lead federal agency for maritime homeland security and fulfills a crucial role within the Department of Homeland Security as the Nation’s maritime first responder. The FY 2006 budget includes resources necessary to effectively execute all of our missions and meet associated performance goals. Every resource provided to the Coast Guard will contribute to a careful balance between our safety, security, mobility, protection of natural resources and national defense missions, all of which must be adequately resourced to meet the Coast Guard’s performance objectives. The FY 2006 budget advances several initiatives that will yield increased performance across multiple Coast Guard missions: · Great Lakes Icebreaker (GLIB) – provides funding to operate and maintain the new GLIB scheduled to be commissioned in FY 2006, greatly enhancing the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct essential icebreaking activities and maintain aids-to-navigation to facilitate maritime commerce and prevent loss of life, personal injury, and property damage on the navigable waters of the Great Lakes. · Maritime Law Enforcement School Co-location – enhances law enforcement training through co-location with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, increasing Coast Guard law enforcement training throughput and promoting better coordination among field activities with other Federal, state, and local agencies. · Polar Icebreaking Funding Transfer - shifts base funding for the two Polar Class icebreakers (USCGC POLAR SEA and USCGC POLAR STAR) and the USCGC HEALY to the National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation is the resident agency with responsibility for the U.S. Antarctic Program and the current primary beneficiary of polar icebreaking services. Under this arrangement, the National Science Foundation will reimburse the U.S. Coast Guard for maintenance and operation of the polar icebreaking fleet. Conclusion I appreciate your strong support over the past several years in providing the Coast Guard with the tools necessary to meet our multi-mission and military demands. I am extremely proud of our Coast Guard’s accomplishments since 9/11 as we strive to increase maritime homeland security while performing a myriad of critical maritime safety functions. We continue to focus on improving maritime security while facilitating safe use of the maritime transportation system for its many commercial, environmental, and recreational functions. But, much work remains to be done to reduce America’s vulnerabilities to terrorism and other maritime security threats. The FY 2006 budget includes the resources required to continue the multi-year effort to modernize the Coast Guard, reduce risks to maritime safety and security, and deliver capabilities and competencies necessary to enhance mission performance. The requested funding will positively impact our ability to deliver the maritime safety and security America demands and deserves by focusing resources toward three critical priorities: Ø Recapitalize the Coast Guard. Ø Implement the Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security. Ø Enhance Mission Performance. Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the outstanding service provided by the extremely dedicated Coast Guard workforce—a total team of uniformed active duty, Reserve, and Auxiliary personnel; dedicated civilian employees, and talented contractors. Looking at their accomplishments, it is clear that Coast Guard men and women continue to rise to the challenge and deliver tangible and important results across both homeland security and non-homeland security mission programs. Coast Guard men and women are unwavering in their commitment to their Service and country. Ensuring these same people are properly compensated and given the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally is my single highest priority. With Congressional and Administration support, we have done much in recent years, from pay raises, improved housing allowances to better medical care, to support our men and women. The FY 2006 budget builds upon those results and provides a pay raise and important funding for Coast Guard housing projects through the shore recapitalization request. Coast Guard members volunteer in order to serve, secure, and defend this great nation. Our personnel are faced on a daily basis with a daunting set of mission requirements and challenges. We owe them not only fair compensation and benefits; we owe them the capabilities and tools to get the job done. The FY06 budget is about placing the right tools in the capable hands of our personnel. They have shown time and again that they know just what to do with them. With the continued support of the Administration and Congress, and the tremendous people of the Coast Guard, I know that we will succeed in delivering the robust maritime safety and security America expects and deserves in its’ Coast Guard well into the 21st Century. Thank your for the opportunity to testify before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Ms. Margaret WrightsonDirector, Homeland Security and Justice TeamUnited States Government Accountability Office