Dont link Coast Guards record to Bush
As a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, I find disgusting George Eden's attempt to tie some amorphous argument for respect for George W Bush, to that proud service. The record of the Coast Guard's critical actions in rescuing thousands in the wake of Katrina, can in no way be linked to George Bush, except that he just happened to be in office when that disaster occurred. Serendipity, nothing more.
The Coast Guard was on the scene at once, probably before Bush even knew the levees had been breached. When disaster strikes, no critical responder, including the Coast Guard, can wait for some … official in Washington to react. They respond immediately! No lives would ever be saved if it required someone like … George Bush to give his OK.
Bush's appointee, Brownie, had the rescue efforts so messed up (except for the Coast Guard and some Army units), that Admiral Thad Allen (USCG) was eventually dispatched to New Orleans to coordinate and direct relief efforts. In other words his job was to 'de-Brownie' the situation. Then, and only then was anything meaningful accomplished, other than the above-mentioned USCG and Army actions.
So bad has been the effects of Bush's administration and the Department of Homeland Security on the Coast Guard that it has suffered probably the worst scandal in its history. The Bush administration's penchant for handing out lucrative plums to cronies is at the center of The Deep Water debacle.
After 9/11 the Deep Water program was initiated, which was to add 91 ships, 124 small craft and numerous fixed wing aircraft and helicopters to the USCG fleet. Bush's … administration decided that the Coast Guard was incapable of managing its own acquisition program.
The Coast Guard has for most of its recent history designed its own equipment, let the appropriate contracts and even built some of its own ships at Curtis Bay, MD. But the opportunity for Bush's pals to make a pile of money was put ahead of the needs of the service and the nation. So the determination of what ships and aircraft were needed, the design of these units and the construction of them were handed over to a consortium of companies. That is the precise formula for mismanagement, poor performance, and corruption, which is exactly what has happened. Familiar? Today, five years later, the Coast Guard actually has fewer assets with which to accomplish its mission than it did when Deep Water was initiated.
The first of eight huge and expensive National Security cutters is now way over budget and has had innumerable design flaws, and is only now gaining provisional acceptance.
Eight 112-foot patrol boats were lengthened to 125 feet. This modification was so badly botched that they are all tied to the dock and have been declared not seaworthy. All have developed serious hull buckling after just a few weeks of service.
Of course, the job of straightening out this mess has fallen to the aforementioned Adm. Allen who was named Commandant of the Coast Guard in May 2006. A major part of his duties has been to fix the mess. The service has regained control of the program under Adm. Allen and is progressing, but the money and progress lost is staggering.
Again I will repeat, any attempt to link the accomplishments of the United States Coast Guard with the arrogant, incompetent, and foolhardy presidency of George W. Bush, is an insult to every man and women who is currently wearing the uniform, ever wore the uniform or may in the future wear the uniform. And it is doubly insulting to the memory of the men and women who have died in the line of duty, in our nation's only service that is dedicated to the safety of all those who go to sea, in peacetime or war, regardless of nationality.
Dennis McNish is a resident of Lake Oswego.