Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Questions Napolitano on Coast Guard Nominee

February 25, 2010
Press Release

Rep. Pete Olson today questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the nominee for Coast Guard Commandant and his stated goals for the department.  Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp has been nominated to head up the Coast Guard.  An internal memo he drafted outlines his vision for the department and drew questions from Members of Congress including Olson.

“Vice Admiral Papp’s memo raises key questions about his vision for the Coast Guard’s future and strikes me as terribly misguided.  It lays out a clear vision for the Coast Guard that is both flawed and dangerous.  I am concerned that the Secretary would recommend and the President would nominate a would-be Commandant who believes the Coast Guard should seriously scale back its functions and would completely eliminate some of its counterterrorism capabilities.  The Commandant of the Coast Guard should be fighting for the resources needed to protect Americans.  Fiscal discipline is important but not at the risk of the safety of Americans.”

Specifically, Vice Admiral Papp’s vision includes:

? A plan to eliminate the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) - the only unit of its kind in the government who can board a hostile vessel, take control, and steer it to safety.  We have spent $80 million to build this elite counter-terrorism team within the Coast Guard.  We should not eliminate it at a time when their knowledge and skills are so valuable.

? A plan to loosen the Coast Guards on-scene response standards - the current standard requires the Coast Guard to respond to a vessel in distress within two hours.  Two hours is a lifetime for someone in dire need of the Coast Guard’s assistance.  Further graying of that line is a treacherous step in the wrong direction.

? A plan to cut counterdrug support in the Caribbean by 25% - the Coast Guard told the Committee in budget briefings that moving one ship from the eastern Pacific to the coast of Haiti has created a gap in the eastern Pacific that could result in the illegal movement of as much as 10 tons of drugs every month.  The American people cannot afford further reductions in our counterdrug efforts.


Contact: Melissa Kelly