Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Pay The Coast Guard Or Risk Losing The Next Generation Of Public Servants
First you hear them. The dull roar of voices calling and repeating. Hundreds of rubber soles begin pounding the pavement of an empty Beach Avenue. It sounds like an oncoming train.
Then the recruits of United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May are upon you.
Discipline is maintained as they run in neat rows. Their company commanders see to it; somehow, their individual voices bark louder than the collective roar of the recruits. You keep your ears open for any colorful tirades, but this isn't the place for that.
On they run. Step after idealistic step, teeth gritted, eyes fixed forward, sweat darkening grey cotton t-shirts — this isn't even the hardest part of their day. Yet they want to be here. Idealism can't be sweated out. Young men and women from all over the United States, gathered in the birthplace of the modern American beach vacation, grinding it out for a greater purpose.
Find a spot on the beach and you'll see the Coast Guard at work. A hulking C-130 will lumber by. Bright orange helos on patrol, the Jayhawk and the Dolphin, elicit squeals of delight from kids, who stop building sand castles to look. Occasionally a cutter will slink past beyond the breakers. Recreational fisherman might warily eye a passing Defender-class boat on the lookout for mischief. Semper Paratus.
It's comforting to know that, God forbid you ever get into trouble in the water, they're around to bail your ass out. Maybe it'll be one of those miserable looking kids that just ran by.
But the Coast Guard does so much the masses on the beach don't see.
The eleven core missions the coasties perform mean those recruits will function as cops, environmental advocates, educators, engineers, legal specialists, surveyors, intelligence analysts, man elite counter terrorist teams, and not to mention deploying to overseas alongside the Navy. Their calling is a multi-dimensional one, spanning the breadth and width of the U.S's defense and law enforcement establishments.
Now none of those young men and women are getting paid. Those waiting to join them are uncertain answering the call to service was the right move. And it's a goddamn disgrace.
A Coast Guard Recruit Color Guard marches in front of family and friends during Pass and Review during recruit graduation at Training Center Cape May, Aug. 2, 2013 (U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)
Given the huge support for the armed forces in the United States compared to all other modern institutions, it's maddening that stories of coasties and their families turning to food pantries for help isn't moving the stones of Washington to action. That members of the administration either didn't know how the Coast Guard would be affected by shutdown or just didn't care is a national scandal in its own right, especially considering the Coast Guard is a central part of the nation's border enforcement — a role they're now fulfilling unpaid.
Good for Admiral Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, and his leadership team, for speaking out against the government shutdown. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden," Adm. Schultz said of the shutdown on Twitter. "Ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day to day life as service members."
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen's conduct has shown she's a hopelessly ineffective advocate for Schultz and his sailors. While offering his resignation would not be appropriate, as such a drastic step should only be reserved for the gravest of moments, Adm. Schultz would be within his rights to advocate for his agency in public even more aggressively.
What could this effort look like?
He can start by documenting everything the Coast Guard does. Daily. With embedded reporters and social media. He can do so respectfully, in the vein of his Twitter message.
Document the number of rescues and answered distress calls. Each rescue swimmer deployed. Ground crews diligently maintaining aircraft. Chart every unpaid mile of ice broken in The Arctic. Every pound of drugs interdicted. Smugglers boats neutralized.
Highlight the adverse conditions the Coast Guard operates in. Inland rescues. Celebrate each mission launched in support of each theatre command. Publicize every acre of marine wildlife preserved. Maritime laws enforced. Anything to drive home just how cynically our political leadership is treating a branch of the armed forces.
Most of all, Adm. Schultz needs to show us the recruits rumbling down Beach Avenue. Let each idealistic step knock the rust off of Washington's civic bones.
WATCH NEXT: The Coast Guard Has Better Snipers Than The Freakin' Marine Corps
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Oceanside girl in 2017, federal prosecutors in San Diego said in a statement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.