The State of the Coast Guard Address… what’s ADM Papp going to say? [opinion]

We’re just around the corner, historically speaking, from the annual State of the Coast Guard Address and though I dare not think to know what ADM Bob Papp may speak about, if only for the fact that there’s an unlimited amount of things that are on his plate, I happened across a great resource giving a potential preview of his speech to come.

While looking around the Coast Guard Compass yesterday I saw that one of the latest posts was on ADM Papp’s speech at the Surface Navy Association symposium; though the post isn’t all that telling I think it may be worth your time to check out the .pfd of his speech.

Most Coasties, and nautical types, have heard ADM Papp discuss his four guiding principles he introduced upon taking the helm as our Commandant (see, I too can be semi-nautical); Steady the Service, Honor our Profession, Strengthen our Partnerships, and Respect our Shipmates. No doubt he’ll discuss our future in term of these principles– and why not? It’s what he’s known for and it only makes sense.

He’s bound to discuss where we, as a service, stand in terms of his goal to “Steady the Service.” This was seen by many as the most important thing the new office of the Commandant could do. I entered the Coast Guard in 1999, as an Airman, and though it wasn’t that long ago I can attest to the notion that we’ve been in a continual state of change modernization. The efforts seemed aimed at improvement; however, in hindsight, it seems that too much change was in the works. Considering where we are now he’ll also discuss the way ahead; I can say this with confidence as it’s in integral part of the State of the Coast Guard address. This may, or may not, include his plans on downsizing, asset status (Ice Breakers, NSC, aging 378s, etc.), and people.

With a steading comes a question of how? It’s already been eluded-to that change is upon us and the only way change is accomplished within the military/government is with money; enter the budget. ADM Papp makes no secret that we need new assets thus he’ll continue the tale that that was told by ADM Allen only a year ago- our fleet is old and in need of replacement. We can only repair our vessels for so long. And though I doubt he’ll bring it up during his State of the Coast Guard address ADM Papp was clear to the audience at the Surface Navy Association symposium “…while the Navy is also faced with budget challenges, they don’t perform their missions with such antiquated assets.” But the subject of replacement assets is a given.

How does one go about “Honoring our Profession?” Well as ADM Papp reminds us it’s simply getting back to the basics of seamanship, boatsmanship and airmanship. Remaining focused on the “why” and “how” we do our jobs is no doubt a means to re-instill our own services confidence. Learn why you need to do your job and you’re bound to do it better as you understand the end result.

Honoring your current rate/job/life will lead to the Coast Guard being able to adequately take on new missions. Though we’ve taken on plenty of them since 9/11 (perhaps another topic of his address) none will be more challenging and require skills and minds alike than that of an Arctic mission set. Beyond what our ice breakers already do, one day we’ll have to maintain continual SAR and HLS missions near the top of Alaska. Don’t take this as a pipe dream; it’s going to happen. Canada and Russia are operating in the area and if history shows– we won’t be the left out of a party. Look for at least a mention, be it new ice breakers or Stations, of our future role in the Arctic operating area.

Our job, as a pseudo-military in terms of our partnerships, will also be noted. I use the term “pseudo” in the capacity that we’re able to straddle the fence of working hand-in-hand with a number of federal agencies while also working with our DoD partners. It’s a unique skill the Coast Guard has, and it’s one that ADM Papp sees a necessity for our future as a service.

I’m not really sure what partnerships may be brought up, perhaps a short topic on our work with DoD in the Gulf of Aden or the Horn of Africa (yep, it’s still active).

Just short of our steadying I’m inclined to think that “Respecting our Shipmates” is a near top priority of ADM Papp’s. Without respect for one another, without caring for one another, or without supporting one another our service means little as it’s you and I who make it work. You’ve no doubt heard that ‘respect goes a long way;’ while conducting our daily work at sea, in the air, or behind a desk it’s that respect that makes it work.

Following the path of respect ADM Papp is sure to mention out climate challenges and what lies ahead. Though to topic of “Civil Rights” may not be broached I’m sure that a blip of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be mentioned if for only one reason: keeping the fleet informed. Since DADT was officially overturned there’s been little said; however, don’t look for a full out course change here either.

These are sure to be only a few of the topics at hand; and though these are my thoughts on the matter I’d be interested in what you think; what will ADM Papp say? What do you think he needs to say?

Copyright ryanerickson.com © 2007-2011; This post was released on 14 January 2011 at 07:20R. (Digital Fingerprint: 5e6541bd23rre ( )
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