Coast Guard: Agency Stretched Thin Since 9/11

For the U.S. Coast Guard, post-9/11 missions that involve fighting international terrorists and pirates in the Arabian Sea are, no doubt, worthwhile for the agency. Since 2002, however, this intense focus of curbing terrorism has left behind another important facet of the Coast Guard’s duties: environmental control. “Oil-spill issues were not at the top of the list,” retired Capt. Lawson Brigham, a former strategic planner for the Coast Guard, told The Washington Post. In fact, some analysts say BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill has suggested the need to rethink certain priorities. “They just don't have enough personnel to carry out all those missions,” said Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Many in the Coast Guard are worried, too, and feel the situation could, in the future, reach freak-out mode. “It’s basically at the breaking point,” a former commander said.