For more than two years, Coast Guard leaders have sought approval from lawmakers to reorganize flag officer positions in the service's headquarters and restructure the Pacific and Atlantic commands into a force readiness command and an operations command.
The changes are vital to the Coast Guard's ability to perform its mission effectively, said Commandant Adm. Thad Allen Tuesday at the National Press Club, where he presented his annual assessment of the service's health.
Allen said he hasn't encountered resistance to the Coast Guard's plans on Capitol Hill. But because Congress has not passed an authorization bill for the service in two years, he lacks the authority to move forward.
The reforms would align the service's organizational structure more closely with that of the other military services and allow the Coast Guard to manage its operational forces more efficiently.
"Modernization is a change in business processes and command and control," Allen said. "It's not budget driven. It is driven by the necessity to change and adapt to ensure future readiness."
Since Allen took the helm of the Coast Guard in May 2006, he has worked to restructure the Coast Guard broadly and to restore credibility to its procurement programs. One of his first steps was to consolidate the service's acquisition directorate with the then-separate organization managing the service's Deepwater modernization program -- a far-reaching effort to upgrade the service's aging fleet of cutters and aircraft and the communications systems that link them together.
Under Allen, the Coast Guard beefed up the technical and contracting expertise in its acquisition workforce and resumed oversight of Deepwater after a number of programs fell behind schedule and developed performance problems. Deepwater was initially managed by a consortium formed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.
More recently, the Coast Guard began overhauling its logistics and maintenance operations to stand up five regional logistics service centers. Once Congress authorizes the creation of a new deputy commandant for mission support, the Coast Guard will be able to more efficiently manage logistics and support services through a centralized system.
Allen said he could achieve about 80 percent of his modernization plans through his current authority, but that the remaining 20 percent was critical.
"The key to current and future success lies in our ability to complete the modernization of our service so we can effectively and efficiently allocate resources, support our personnel and sustain operational capability," he said.
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