WASHINGTON — President Trump is proposing increased military spending in his 2018 budget, but the proposal cuts $1.3 billion from the U.S Coast Guard, reducing its budget by 12%.
The Coast Guard is not happy about the news.
“We have always prided ourselves as a service that punches above our weight class. Yet, as our nation’s fifth armed service, we are budgeted at the bottom,” said Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, the 25th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, during an annual speech at the National Press Club on Thursday.
Delivering the State of the Coast Guard 2017 Address, he said that the funding for the Coast Guard must reflect the “power of the Coast Guard punch.”
Opponents of the budget, including the 23 senators who signed the letter against the Coast Guard budget cut, argue that such a drastic slashing will put the country’s national security at risk.
The lack of resources will also hinder the organization from its effort to seize illegal drugs being trafficked through the Southern border. Last year, Zukunft said, the Coast Guard confiscated 201 metric tons of cocaine and arrested 585 smugglers in the U.S.
“Without the operational platforms, resources, and personnel to carry out these missions, the Coast Guard will be unable to adequately secure our maritime borders,” the letter wrote.
Trump requested $54 billion more for the other armed forces, but the Coast Guard was left out. Some of the additional investment for the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps is taken away from the Coast Guard’s budget.
The budget will increase military defense spending to $603 billion and reduce non-defense discretionary spending to $462 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, CNN reported.
Zukunft also complained that the Coast Guard's fleet of cutters are too old and need to be replaced. Among 35 ships, “25 of these cutters are more than 50 years old, with the oldest being 73. The time to replace this legacy — or perhaps geriatric class of cutters — arrived over a decade ago,” Zukunft said.
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(© 2017 USA TODAY)