The United States’ deficit shrank from approximately $1.1 trillion in Fiscal Year 2012 to $439 billion in FY 15, as interest rates remained low.1 That’s the upside. However, annual deficits continue to grow our national debt, and, more important, our government’s debt to gross domestic product ratio is above 104 percent, up from 65 percent a decade ago.2 In an attempt to slow spending, the federal government has adjusted budgets accordingly. The Coast Guard’s operating expense budget, for example, was reduced in 2013 and increased by just 1 percent per year for the following two years. As the Coast Guard continues to struggle with managing a seemingly endless list of new and existing priorities, and shifts to a mind-set of doing less with less, its support structure continues to be in the fiscal crosshairs. The question now becomes at what point do operational capabilities—vis-à-vis our men and women conducting operations—erode to a point of no return?
Sustain Operational Crews & Support
Support functions usually take the first hit in austere times, but when cuts begin to negatively affect operators, it’s time for the Coast Guard to rethink its approach.
By Captain Gregory Stump, U.S. Coast Guard