The Coast Guard celebrates its birthday today! Today marks 226 years of service.
This summer, while most of us enjoy our vacations, the Coast Guard will be working 24/7 to protect our coasts. Every time they set out on a rescue mission, board a suspicious vessel or chase a drug runner trying to flee, they put their lives in danger.
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Building upon our proud history, we are boldly addressing the vast maritime challenges facing our Nation. Strategically focused, we are leading the way into the 21st century. Guided by our suite of regional and functional strategies, we are focused in the Western Hemisphere and Arctic and on guaranteeing economic security by countering the threats to our maritime infrastructure and cyber networks.
We are guided by our Western Hemisphere Strategy and combating transnational organized crime. Instability, violence and terror are flourishing because of these drug-funded criminal networks. Desperate people are fleeing and rule of law is under attack in our neighboring nations – so far more than 33,000 children have been apprehended crossing our Southwest border. Last year, we conducted the most aggressive campaign in our history to combat those criminals where they are most vulnerable – at sea. We are on pace to remove record volumes of cocaine this year, and I am proud to say that we have already removed 245 metric tons of cocaine and nearly 400 smugglers. They continue to meet this rising threat to our national security and health of our citizens.
We are asserting national sovereignty in the Arctic. Our Arctic Strategy, in line with the national strategy, is based on 150 years of experience. We have led the establishment of the Arctic Coast-Guard Forum where we are working with seven partner nations to ensure safety, security and stewardship of this vital and pristine region. We are working with all branches of the federal government to accelerate the acquisition of new heavy icebreakers to operate year round in the most inhospitable regions on the planet. Only the world’s best Coast Guard can meet these challenges.
We are focused on the prosperity of our Nation. Over $3.2 trillion of commerce flows from all over the world to our Nation’s homes and businesses, including precious energy resources. Ninety percent of that global commerce is moved by sea and much of it flows through our extensive inland waterway systems. The world’s best Coast Guard has the unique authorities to keep pace with the increased activity within our maritime transportation system that fuels our economic engine.
Countering cyber risks to our own networks and to the maritime transportation system is another area we are focused strategically. Our world is embracing advancements in technology that have revolutionized shipping, commerce and safety. We continue to work with industry leaders to find the right solutions that foster commerce while protecting our vital maritime infrastructure. The world’s best Coast Guard demands a 21st century workforce to supply the innovative thinking that will keep us ahead of these threats.
We are no longer doing more with less. We are embarking on a recapitalization of our assets that the Guard’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton, could have hardly imagined. This year alone, our focus on building the Coast Guard of tomorrow has netted two more National Security Cutters, eight more Fast Response Cutters, 14 C-27J aircraft and significant investments in our shore infrastructure. And this fall, we will award the final design for the missing link in our littoral and open ocean presence, the Offshore Patrol Cutter. We are aggressively building a more capable Coast Guard.
Most importantly, we are the Service we are today because of our people. You need to spend only one day with the men and women standing the watch in the Coast Guard to know our Service is full of heroism and steeped in tradition. Every day, our people go into harm’s way. Every day, our service members answer the call. We are unified and we are focused.
The best Coast Guard the world has ever seen is proudly marking its 226th year. As America expects and deserves, we remain Semper Paratus.
Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.
COVER PHOTO: Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft underway with Station Milford Haven on the morning of the Coast Guard’s 226th anniversary. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.
SOURCE: United States Coast Guard