Now this does make some sense:
With a new name-plate freshly nailed to his Senate office, so to speak, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY.) is proposing shifting authority over the United States Coast Guard from the Department of Homeland Security to the Defense Department, according to an overview of a proposed bill that aims to cut $500 billion from federal spending.
Cutting the defense budget was once an “eccentric” idea, but Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates efficiencies initiatives have put that notion to rest, the bill overview argues.
“National defense is the primary constitutional function of the federal government. However, that does not mean that the Department of Defense should receive a blank check without serious oversight,” the proposal reads.
Among the policy proposals, the proposed bill would shift the Coast Guard to from DHS to DoD, to “promote uniformity, administrative savings and reduce duplicative functions.”
Before DHS was created in 2003, the Coast Guard was under the authority of the Department of Transportation. However, even under the official auspices of DHS, the Coast Guard works under the Navy after a declaration of war or a presidential order, according to Defense News.
And, since the start of the Iraq War, the Coast Guard has done extensive work for DoD. Because of that, “common sense would suggest a move,” to the Pentagon, the proposal states.
Paul’s proposal also includes transferring the primary functions of the Department of Energy to DoD, including nuclear weapon procurement and the disposal of nuclear waste.
I’ve never been sold on the idea of a Department of Homeland Security in the first place. Just seemed, at the time and now, like more an administrative reorganization. In the “old days” the Department of Defense handled homeland security. That’s why we have all those coastal fortifications, designated air defense zones, and well, frankly, a military force to begin with! And what DoD could not handle, the Department of Justice could. Now days DHS is sort of straddling the two. As the article states, “duplicative.”
The Coast Guard operates with similar, if not the same, equipment as the armed forces. As the overview of the proposal points out, there is about 100 years of precedence here. And the Coast Guard performs a vital wartime mission in conjunction with DoD agencies. Um… and aren’t we sort of at war right now? (Don’t answer that.)
The proposal also would shift some of Department of Energy’s functions to DoD, particularly functional areas involving nuclear weapons and waste. You see, technically all nuclear weapons in the US inventory are on loan from DoE to DoD. When you think about it, does that make much sense? And from a security standpoint, with all the duplication of effort, is this smart? (Need I mention Wen Ho Lee?)
Other parts of the proposed cuts include realignment of overseas bases and cuts in the civilian workforce. Senator Paul also suggested reducing the military by attrition.
Now the DoD civilian workforce has grown by about 100,000 since 2000. I would argue that much of the growth has been due to wartime needs. Although there is always some trimming that might be done. I’d like to see more details on the personnel reduction, and the base realignments, before throwing in my two cents.