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Coast Guard Pushes Back Against Rep. Hunter’s Pentagon Move

A U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk lands on the Somerset during exercises on Feb. 5, ...

Photo by SurfaceWarriors via Compfight

Above: A U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk lands on the Somerset during exercises on Feb. 5, 2014.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying he believed the U.S. Coast Guard should move to the Department of Defense, with the other branches of the military.

U.S. Coast Guard officials are pushing back on Rep. Duncan Hunter’s idea to move the service out of the Department of Homeland Security and into the Pentagon.

In March, Hunter, R-Alpine, sent a letter to President Donald Trump, asking the president to support a reorganization that would move the service into the Department of Defense with the other branches of the military.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft speaking in San Diego, Feb. 23, 2017.

“First and foremost, the Coast Guard is a military force. It deserves to be housed in a department that recognizes the importance of its mission,” Hunter wrote in his March 16 letter to Trump.

Published reports say Coast Guard leadership, including the Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft, are pushing back on Hunter’s call to move to the Pentagon. While a military service, the Coast Guard also has a law enforcement role.

Coast Guard commanders said they are happy with being part of Homeland Security, which also has Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Protection.

Zukunft talked about the Coast Guard’s role as a law enforcement agency during a speech in San Diego, in February. The Coast Guard has a Tactical Law Enforcement Team in San Diego. They often work with the Navy, which, like other branches of the armed forces, traditionally cannot act as law enforcement on its own.

“But they can when they have a Coast Guard Law Enforcement Team embarked,” he said.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard at Coast Guard Air Station San Diego, Feb. 23, 2017.

A form of the Coast Guard has been around nearly since the early days of the country. They did not officially become the U.S. Coast Guard until 1915. It was put under the control of the U.S. Navy during both World Wars. For most of their history, the Coast Guard was under the Treasury Department, though it has moved around. The service was under the Department of Transportation until after Sept. 11, 2001, when they became part of new Department of Homeland Security.

This was the second letter the congressman sent to Trump regarding the Coast Guard. Hunter spearheaded a letter signed by several congressmen that urged Trump to not cut the Coast Guard’s budget. A rumored cut of more than $1 billion had circulated widely just prior to Trump’s budget outline was announced in March.


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Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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