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Gibbs Statement from Hearing on Coast Guard Personnel Issues

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH) from today’s hearing entitled, “Enhancing Personnel Resources to Support a Stronger, More Resilient Coast Guard”:

Admiral Fagan, it is a pleasure to have you here for your first testimony before the Subcommittee as Commandant.  Much progress has been made, as you are the first female Service chief.  However, I believe you are also the first Commandant with primarily a marine safety background, or at least the first such Commandant in a long time.  I look forward to working with you to bring more attention to the Coast Guard’s marine safety programs, which have gotten less attention over the last fifteen years as attention has been focused on the crucially important recapitalization of the Service’s ocean-going and air assets.  

In 2008, the Coast Guard undertook a structural reorganization called modernization.  It established the Deputy Commandant positions for Mission Support and Operations; logistics centers for ships, IT, and personnel; and sectors and bases.  

Unfortunately, the follow-on Coast Guard-wide manpower requirement analyses and determinations that were to complete the modernization process have lagged substantially behind the structural changes.  I hope to hear today what actions the new Commandant plans to take to complete these analyses and determinations. 

I am also interested in what progress is being made on assuring that members of the Coast Guard with ship operating experience are able to convert that experience to receiving Coast Guard-issued mariner licenses as part of the ‘Military to Mariner’ initiative.  Given our current shortage of mariners for national defense sealift, we should encourage Coast Guard and Navy mariners to get licenses, if they wish to do so.

Finally, I look forward to hearing whether the Coast Guard is having the same issues finding recruits that the other armed services are facing, and if the low unemployment rate is making it more difficult to retain service members.

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