The Commandant of the Coast Guard told a Senate subcommittee this week that the “American people deserve the capability of a modern Coast Guard fleet to preserve and protect our maritime sovereignty.”  Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr. said the FY2012 Coast Guard budget sustains that capability and urged senators to support the full budget request.

The FY2012 Coast Guard budget request (included in the Department of Homeland Security budget) totals $10.3 billion.  This includes $8.68 billion in discretionary funding (to be appropriated by Congress) and $1.66 billion in mandatory funding (including retired pay). 

Operating expenses account for $6.82 billion of the discretionary budget.  These amounts fund Coast Guard operational activities worldwide, including personnel costs.  The acquisition, construction, and Improvements discretionary request of $1.42 billion finances the acquisition of new assets and construction of new facilities and improvements to existing facilities.  

Adm. Papp told the committee that the FY2012 Coast Guard budget reflects tough tradeoffs and management efficiencies and reductions necessary to address current budget challenges.  He said he identified over $100 million in savings, which were reinvested in higher priorities to support the Coast Guard’s strategic priorities:  1) rebuild the Coast Guard, 2) sustain front-line operations, 3) enhance maritime incident prevention and response, and 4) support military families.

But, he warned that the Coast Guard was “at a critical inflection point,” arguing that decisions today will determine whether mission capabilities are sustained in the future.  Adm. Papp said the Coast Guard must continue acquisitions momentum to avoid funding gaps in recapitalization efforts.  If allowed to happen, he said such gaps would be costly and would “jeopardize our ability to protect the Nation’s high seas sovereignty.” 

Adm. Papp stressed that the $1.4 billion for investment in the FY2012 budget request will continue the recapitalization effort.  These funds will buy and recapitalize cutters, boats, aircraft, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), and infrastructure that are “essential to mission execution.”