The US Naval Institute blog has a post recommending that the Coast Guard be moved into the Department of Defense.
The most significant part of the post appears to me to be that this concept has been put forward by Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is the Chair of the Sub-Committee that has oversight of the Coast Guard. Representative Hunter is a Marine Reserve Major who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Having watched him perform in several sub-committee meetings, I have a great deal of respect for his opinions. He would like to see a stronger and better armed Coast Guard.
Personally I see still unrealized potential for the Coast Guard in the Department of Homeland Security and potential problems as well as opportunities in the Department of Defense.
How would the Coast Guard be funded within the DOD? Would it be a separate agency or would it be budgeted with the Department of the Navy?
Within the DHS budget, the Coast Guard is the third largest component behind FEMA and Customs and Border Protection. It has significant visibility.
In the DOD organization above, I cannot even find the National Guard Bureau. We might do well because we would be a very small part of the overall budget, or we might simply be too small to attract any attention. I think there is a real possibility that if we were transferred into the Navy Department, the Coast Guard might end up as little more than a Master at Arms Corps.
We should remember that in terms of personnel, while the US Navy (and the DOD) is now much smaller than it was 50 years ago, the Coast Guard is larger. I can recall when the Navy was about 25 times as large as the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps about 8 times as large. Now the Navy is less than eight times as large. The Marine Corps is only 4.4 times as large.
We can talk about how the Congress has not been kind to us, but at least funding has been relatively consistent, and of late there seems to be a recognition of greater need for capital improvements.
If our personnel end strength had followed the trend of the DOD we would now have fewer than 20,000 active duty rather than over 40,000.
In short, be careful what you wish for.