Save the Coasties
The U.S. Coast Guard is an odd duck, a multi-mission maritime agency that is both a military and a law enforcement service. It saves far more lives than it takes — about one million since its founding 220 years ago.
Maybe that difference is why it’s getting the prop screw in President Obama’s 2011 budget even though it had the first ship, first planes and first military doctors on the ground after the Haitian earthquake last month and did the surveys that discovered the main port needs massive reconstruction before it can handle significant long-term relief shipments. Less than five years ago the Coast Guard was the only part of the U.S. government that functioned in the first critical days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. “Coasties,” as they call themselves, rescued over 33,500 of some 60,000 citizens saved in the wake of the disaster. They also coordinated the largest maritime rescue in world history on 9-11, helping evacuate half a million people from lower Manhattan.