The Testimony of Admiral Thomas Collins
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard
Good morning, Madame Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. It is a pleasure to appear before you today to discuss the Coast Guard's fiscal year 2004 budget request and its impact on the essential daily services we provide the American public.
I am pleased to begin by saying that, as a result of support from the President, Secretary Ridge and the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard's fiscal year 2004 budget contains significant increases to address all of our essential mission needs. The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for the maritime component of Homeland Security and that, alongside Search and Rescue, is our top priority. In fiscal year 2004, we will continue to build upon the resource capabilities provided in last year's supplemental and the fiscal year 2003 budget to provide layered maritime security operations, driven by performance and risk-based analysis. The Coast Guard will continue to make the ports less vulnerable to terrorists while still facilitating the use of the Marine Transportation System for legitimate purposes.
The President has clearly indicated that protecting the American homeland is our number one priority and the Coast Guard has a critical role in that effort. The President's National Strategy for Homeland Security (dated 16 July 2002) stated:
"The Budget for Fiscal Year 2004 will continue to support the recapitalization of the U.S. Coast Guard's aging fleet, as well as targeted improvements in the areas of maritime domain awareness and command and control systems."
To that end, the Coast Guard's fiscal year 2004 budget proposes budget authority of $6.77 billion dollars and continues our effort to establish a new level of maritime safety and security. The Coast Guard's goal is to create sufficient capability to implement the maritime component of the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security while sustaining all our traditional missions in the way the American public expects and needs.
To implement the President's strategy, the Coast Guard must conduct a broad transformation of how we deliver services so that we can maintain the highest standards of operational excellence. Over the past few years, the Coast Guard has endeavored to gradually transform itself to meet future maritime threats but since September 11, 2001, that effort has become more urgent. The President's National Security Strategy requires transformation in all the military services, because the nation is facing new threats from an elusive and determined enemy. A convergence of three significant factors has clearly illustrated the need for a transformed U.S. Coast Guard:
Immediately after the terrorist attacks on our nation, the Coast Guard established new port security zones, placed Sea Marshals on inbound merchant ships, conducted additional patrols off the coasts, established Maritime Safety and Security Teams to protect major ports and implemented new procedures to monitor vessel and crew movements within ports and coastal approaches. These increased responsibilities stretched already thin resources nearly to the breaking point and made it extremely difficult to continue serving other missions. To fill in the gaps, we activated nearly a third of our entire Selected Reserve force, and have quickly and effectively deployed the resources requested by the Administration and provided by Congress.
The fiscal year 2004 budget provides the resources to continue the broad transformation that is necessary for the Coast Guard to provide the strength and security our nation requires. This transformation will not change the Coast Guard's essential character since it will remain a maritime, multi-mission, military service. Instead, the transformation will enable the Coast Guard to maintain operational excellence while conducting increased homeland security operations and sustaining traditional missions. To fulfill its responsibility to the American public, the Coast Guard is attempting to accomplish three primary objectives in fiscal year 2004:
RECAPITALIZING THE COAST GUARD
To truly transform the Coast Guard, aging assets and infrastructure must be recapitalized. In addition to Rescue 21 (formerly known as National Distress and Response System Modernization Project or NDRSMP), which is on schedule for completion in Fiscal Year 2006, the Coast Guard's Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) will meet America's future maritime needs. Since September 11th, the Coast Guard is reassessing the scale and timing of the flexible Deepwater project. Based on the organization's current capacity levels and the required capabilities immediately needed for Homeland Security and the other missions the American public expects, the continued funding of Deepwater is imperative and makes both programmatic and business sense. The Coast Guard is requesting $500 million for the IDS.
Several programmatic considerations reveal why the IDS is so essential for the safety and security of the American public:
The primary role of the Integrated Deepwater System in the Coast Guard Homeland Security mission is to fortify maritime security. The Deepwater Program will ensure the Coast Guard can continue to fulfill its mission of safeguarding the sovereignty, security, and safety of our homeland waters. The IDS concept pushes our borders out, through an effective use of MDA combined with layered assets throughout ports, waterways, coastal regions and far offshore to surveil, detect, classify, identify and prosecute those who would bring harm to our nation and our economically-critical natural resources. Deepwater assets will be able to counter threats throughout the maritime domain to thwart catastrophes to vulnerable infrastructure (oil rigs, deepwater channels, shipping) and keep commerce, especially military materiel load-out, safe in the near shore zones at harbor entrances and between ports. New assets include the conversion of five 110' patrol boats to more capable 123' patrol craft, seven Short Range Prosecutor small boats, funding for the first National Security Cutter (to be delivered in FY 2006), the continued development of an organization-wide C4ISR network including a Common Operating Picture (COP), command and control system at four shore-based command centers and the establishment of an integrated logistics system.
From a business perspective, the flexible IDS framework was designed to adapt to the kinds of changes the Coast Guard has experienced since the notional funding baseline was established in 1998 and particularly since September 11, 2001. The IDS acquisition will replace or modernize obsolete and maintenance intensive assets that are not capable of meeting the current mission demand. The IDS will provide the required capabilities the Coast Guard needs to perform an enhanced level of maritime security operations sustain growing traditional missions and respond to any future crises, man-made or otherwise, that threaten America.
Rescue 21 is also a transformational project as it will dramatically improve the Coast Guard's command and control communications network in the inland and coastal zone areas for SAR and all other Coast Guard missions. The improved Rescue 21 system will meet safety requirements for growing maritime traffic, as well as International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty requirements. It will be also be a critical component of our homeland security operations as it facilitates more effective monitoring and control of coastal assets.
HOMELAND SECURITY CAPABILITIES
The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency for Maritime Homeland Security. As such, the Coast Guard's mission, in conjunction with joint and interagency forces, is to protect the U.S. Maritime Domain and the U.S. Marine Transportation System and deny their use and exploitation by terrorists as a means for attacks on U.S. territory, population and critical infrastructure. The Coast Guard will prepare for, and in the event of an attack, conduct emergency response operations. When directed, the Coast Guard, as the supported or supporting commander, will conduct military homeland defense operations in our traditional role as one of the five Armed Services.
This budget submission is aligned with the Strategic Goals and Critical Mission Areas in the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security. The Coast Guard has developed a Strategy that implements the maritime component of the President's plan and the FY 2004 budget continues to support those goals. It addresses both event-driven and prevention-based operations through the following Strategic Objectives:
The threats to the security of the United States extend beyond overt terrorism. Countering illegal drug and contraband smuggling, preventing illegal immigration via maritime routes, preserving living marine resources from foreign encroachment, preventing environmental damage and responding to spills of oil and hazardous substances are all critical elements of national and economic security. Every Homeland Security dollar directed to the Coast Guard will contribute to a careful balance between our safety and security missions, both of which must be properly resourced for effective mission accomplishment.
Maritime Domain Awareness is the catalyst for effective Maritime Homeland Security and the fiscal year 2004 budget provides the resources to enhance the Coast Guard's ability to receive, fuse, disseminate and transmit intelligence data and leverage our recent inclusion in the National Intelligence Community. It includes new personnel, hardware and software to support the underlying information architecture for MDA, funds leased satellite channels and other connectivity solutions for our entire cutter fleet and establishes a prototype Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) in Hampton Roads, VA, to provide surveillance as well as command and control capability for the critical infrastructure in this area. The fiscal year 2004 request also provides the capability and capacity to conduct layered maritime security operations. Six new, deployable Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), for a total of 12 teams, and over 50 Sea Marshals will be added throughout the country to protect our most critical ports. To increase Coast Guard presence in our ports and waterways, we are requesting 43 fully crewed and outfitted Port Security Response Boats, nine 87' Coastal Patrol Boats and the commencement of the Response Boat Medium acquisition which will replace our aging fleet of 41' utility boats. We are also standing-up Stations Boston and Washington D.C. to increase security and safety in these critical ports where more resources were needed. We are establishing two new Port Security Units, for a total of eight, to support domestic and overseas operational planning.
SUSTAINING TRADITIONAL MISSIONS
The fiscal year 2004 budget restores the Coast Guard's multi-mission focus to near pre-September 11, 2001 levels. We will utilize performance and risk-based analysis to strike a careful balance between our safety and security missions as we attend to our "new normalcy". This delicate balance is critical to protecting America's economic and national security by preventing illegal activity on our maritime borders. It will also enable the Coast Guard to maintain its surge capability, which was evident before and after September 11, 2001. One of the Coast Guard's greatest attributes is our innate flexibility to immediately shift mission focus to meet America's greatest threat while maintaining other mission areas for the American public.
While its primary focus is Search and Rescue (SAR), the Rescue 21 project will transform the Coast Guard's command and control capabilities for all mission areas. Coupling this major acquisition with a staffing increase of nearly 400 new personnel at our SAR stations and Command Centers will ensure Coast Guard shore-side command and control networks and response units are properly equipped and staffed for multi-mission effectiveness. We are also requesting funds for the Great Lakes Icebreaker to ensure delivery in fiscal year 2006. This ship will perform aids to navigation functions as well as break ice to keep this critical commerce route open year-round.
This budget also requests funding to fully train, support, and sustain the Coast Guard's Selected Reserve Force. The Reserve is significantly more than an augmentation force. It is an integral part of Team Coast Guard and provides daily support of all Coast Guard missions. Today's Coast Guard depends on Reserve personnel for day-to-day activities in addition to the qualified military surge capacity a trained Reserve Force provides. The Coast Guard Reserve fills critical national security and national defense roles in both Homeland Security and direct support of Department of Defense Combatant Commanders. The Coast Guard Reserve provides the nation's only deployable port security capability and a cost-effective surge capacity for Coast Guard operations including quick response to natural or man-made disasters such as floods, hurricane relief, major pollution cleanup efforts, and rapid response to major catastrophes.
The Coast Guard started an incremental reserve growth from 8,000 to 9,000 in fiscal year 2003 and now 10,000 in fiscal year 2004. A robust and well-trained Reserve force of 10,000 SELRES members is an integral part of the Coast Guard's plan to provide critical infrastructure protection, coastal and port security, and defense readiness. Funding is essential to properly maintain readiness, alignment with DoD counterparts and to provide critical capabilities for DoD Combatant Commanders. CONCLUSION
There are challenges facing the Coast Guard: the obsolescence of our aging asset fleet; the complexity of recruiting, retaining, and training the talented workforce necessary to execute our missions; and moving into the new Department of Homeland Security
The President's fiscal year 2004 budget provides immediate capability for our Homeland Security responsibilities and continues to build upon past efforts to restore service readiness and shape the Coast Guard's future. It also demonstrates strong support for both the Deepwater project and Rescue 21. This budget will enable the Coast Guard to maintain operational excellence across all mission areas to meet the America's future maritime safety and security needs.
I close with a quote from the National Strategy for Homeland Security which crystallizes the need for a transformed, multi-mission capable Coast Guard:
"The United States asks much of its U.S. Coast Guard and we will ensure the service has the resources needed to accomplish its multiple missions."
I have asked every member of the Coast Guard to continue to focus intently and act boldly on the three elements of my organizational direction: improving Readiness, practicing good Stewardship of the public trust and enhancing the growth, development and well being of our People. With this diligence in executing our multi-year resource plan, we will fulfill our operational commitment to America and maintain our high standards of excellence.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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