A short article in the new US Naval Institute Proceedings makes a case for better understanding of the Coast Guard’s history as a specialized military service.
Although the Coast Guard faces myriad challenges, ranging from an aging fleet to a small budget, there is a bigger problem lurking: The service has trouble defending its place as a fighting force. This may seem trivial, but if we cannot explain how the Coast Guard fits into the national defense constellation, how can we expect politicians and taxpayers to understand the same? How can the Coast Guard expect to secure funding for its military role when even many Coasties cannot describe what makes the service military?
So why do we even want to seen as a military service? Why were we the only military service that was not paid during the last partial government shutdown. Many see the DOD as well funded while the Coast Guard survives on a shoe string (I would argue that that is not the case, but our military missions are another reason the Coast Guard should be kept healthy). If there is a war, particularly if it is a big one, the Coast Guard will be in the fight, ready—or not.
It is a good article and explains why I find the repeated reminders to the public that we only have one medal of honor recipient less than useful.