The proposed budget by the Trump administration reportedly includes guidance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to eliminate the Coast Guard’s counter-terrorism and specialized law enforcement units, according to the Associated Press.
The teams proposed to be cut are the Maritime Security and Response Team (MSRT), based in Chesapeake, Virginia and the ten separate Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs), based around the country.
These teams represent the tactical counter-terrorism and specially trained law enforcement and security capabilities of the Coast Guard, which emerged following the events of 9/11 and the Coast Guard’s reorganization within the Department of Homeland Security.
While the Trump budget proposes an increase of $54 billion in spending for the Department of Defense, that does not apply to the Coast Guard. While the service is technically an armed military service, it does not fall under the Department of Defense (DoD).
This strange distinction benefits the Coast Guard in some ways, particularly with liberties it can take while overseas in performing law enforcement missions that the U.S. Navy and Marines cannot undertake themselves.
However, especially with regard to funding, without the beefy DoD budget, the Coast Guard has historically found itself fighting for scraps within the broader budget for DHS and the other federal law enforcement agencies.
Other proposed changes to the Coast Guard include eliminating construction on a new National Security Cutter (NSC), a new and state of the art ship which is designed to replace the 1960s-era cutters currently used by the Coast Guard to execute its maritime missions.
According to the Coast Guard’s website, the National Security Cutter is “the centerpiece of the Coast Guard’s fleet, capable of executing the most challenging operations, including supporting maritime homeland security and defense missions.” The Coast Guard currently has five operational NSC’s, with three more slated for eventual service. This will eliminate the ninth NSC, whose contract was awarded on December 30, 2016.
While none of these changes are officially approved, if they come to fruition the Coast Guard may find itself struggling to fulfill yet another one of its many congressionally-mandated missions.
Image courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard