As someone who has worked a wide range of Coast Guard posts, in the field and administrative, what more do you believe needs to be done to improve USCG operations?
Recapitalization of our major assets is the most important thing we need to do to improve our mission performance and overall service capabilities. We also have had great success at working alongside partners to enhance the overall capability of the government. When working in a port, we try to foster good working relationships with our partners at the state and local level. Offshore, we’re always looking for ways to operate together with our DHS and military partners. We can do a lot more together than we can individually to solve problems. That also holds true with our international partners and improving our own organic capacity to impact mission success.
What is your “wish list” for the Coast Guard’s future, from new technologies and equipment to manpower and training?
I hope we can replace our major cutters, aircraft and command and control, and build out our coastal capacity with our new fast response patrol boat – and do so at a quick pace. I look for us to develop a shore-side C2 system for visibility of what’s going on in our waterways and off the coasts to best allocate resources. I hope we continue to develop intelligence capabilities, so that deployed resources have the best information on where to go and what to do to get the job done.
As a small service that operates in remote locations, I wish our support system for our people and their families was commensurate with what we ask them to contribute. We need to have childcare, good housing and good health care. The quality of our workforce is the absolute most important thing for us. We attract and retain the best people and develop them as individuals so they can achieve their full potential. But we also have to provide for their family well-being or we won’t be able to retain them. Likewise, we need to provide the equipment they deserve to do the job we ask them to get done.
Do you expect to expand the forum concept to develop new organizations for the Southern Hemisphere?
The regional forums have gone a long way toward breaking down barriers and building respect between countries and we’re much better operating with each other as a result. We want to see these kinds of forums all around the world. Shipping is a global enterprise, as are safety, security and protection of the environment. So to the extent we can bring countries together to cooperate on those, the global community will benefit.
Over the past decade the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum has become a model for the North Atlantic Forum and others. We encourage this model to take hold. The U.S. need not be a member of or lead these, but we can show them the benefits realized and offer best practices that apply to their region of the world.
Any final thoughts?
I really want to emphasize the quality of our people and their value to the nation. We must continue to train them and provide the tools they need for their jobs. Our value is in our integrated mission sets which give the taxpayer a valuable return and while we would always like to do more, the reality of budget constraints forces us to prioritize our efforts.
I’ve never been more optimistic about our future. We have the highest quality and motivated workforce we’ve ever had and the demand for our services has never been greater. Our partnerships with state, local, inter-agency and international stakeholders are maturing for the benefit of everyone – which is why modernization and recapitalization of our service is so important to provide an organizational structure to best operate in the 21st century.