WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., questioned Admiral Craig S. Faller, Commander of the United States Southern Command, and General Glen D. VanHerck, Commander of the United States Northern Command, during today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
During the hearing, Wicker expressed his growing concern that the Coast Guard is not sufficiently resourced to conduct its own missions, much less support the growing demand for Coast Guard units to support the Department of Defense.
“How much do you rely on the Coast Guard, not just to counter drugs and illegal fishing missions, but also theater engagement with us and our allies?” Wicker asked.
“We couldn’t do our mission without the United States Coast Guard. They are a principal source to counter threats in this hemisphere,” Faller replied.
“Do we have enough ships to meet your theater requirements?” Wicker pressed.
“We do not have sufficient enough Coast Guard ships or Navy Ships to meet the requirements,” Faller answered.
Wicker then voiced his fears that the United States is lagging behind Russia. He noted that even with the development of a new polar security cutter, the United States possesses only two ice breakers, which pales in comparison to the 40 icebreakers in Russia’s fleet.
“Do you believe it’s important to advocate for a larger fleet of Coast Guard cutters and ice breakers?” Wicker asked.
“I agree with your assessment. We are lagging behind… It’s crucial that we continue producing capabilities that will allow us to be in the Arctic,” VanHerck responded.Wicker is a strong supporter of the United States Navy and Coast Guard. He is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard. He is also the second highest ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.