Papp reported the State of the Coast Guard as “ready to meet mission demands, but facing real challenges.”
Papp charted the course ahead for the Coast Guard, and announced the release of his Commandant’s Direction, which contains four priorities; Sustaining Mission Excellence, Recapitalizing and Building Capacity, Enhancing Crisis Response and Management, and Preparing for the Future. Papp also highlighted the Service’s accomplishments during his first eight months in command.
Noting that the Coast Guard has recently experienced unprecedented personnel losses Papp told his Service, “I fear that our focus on reorganization and expanding missions post 9/11 has taken the edge off our skills across the service.” He stressed that the Coast Guard needs to focus on “training to proficiency.”
Papp proclaimed 2011 as “The Year of the Coast Guard Family,” announcing a renewed focus on improving housing, child care development centers and military family support programs.
Papp also discussed recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and challenged the Service stating, “I need…every Coast Guardsman to create command climates that foster retention. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will require your leadership – and I’m counting on you to exercise it…You must value your shipmates, no matter what their background.”
Discussing U.S. strategic interests in emerging Arctic waters Papp said, “If we are serious about protecting our Arctic national interests and resources, then we must make the investment to do so.”
Papp stressed the Coast Guard’s need to continue recapitalizing its fleet saying, “Unless we continue to update our ships, planes and boats, and improve our shore stations, we will not be able to maintain an acceptable level of readiness to perform our missions.”
Papp assumed the duties of the 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard May 25, 2010. He leads the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security comprised of 42,000 active-duty men and women, 8,000 civilians, 8,200 reservists, and 31,000 volunteer auxiliarists.