Today, I join our Nation in gathering together with family and loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner. While turkey and stuffing will be served, the sights and sounds will be different from that of many Americans as I spend the holiday with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Manama, Bahrain. There is no better place to express my thanks for all those who place Service before self than sitting alongside those defending our country overseas.
The U.S. Coast Guard must be in lock-step with our Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and other interagency and international partners to be successful in “combating networks” – the first priority of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy. These partnerships were at the forefront as The Interdiction Committee engaged with stakeholders in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia and Honduras last week.
Federal agencies and international partners are working tirelessly in the United States and abroad to combat Transnational Organized Crime networks. These efforts have been instrumental in eradicating production facilities and controlling the purchase of precursor chemicals used to make drugs; interrupting mobility corridors when illegal narcotics are being moved to stockpile locations; and integrating efforts to disrupt drug shipments and the distribution chain to impact the network itself.
As the Coast Guard’s second highest ranking officer, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger is accustomed to giving commands. However, during an annual culinary showdown at Training Center Petaluma, Calif., roles were reversed as he followed the commands of Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Foley, a Food Service Specialist “A” School instructor, and Seaman Rebeckah Kean, a Food Service Specialist “A” School student.
Being the spouse of an ‘ancient mariner’ provides a unique perspective into the world of Coast Guard cutters and life at sea. However, Linda Kapral Papp, wife of retired Adm. Bob Papp, is getting a different view of the cutter fleet through her new role: sponsor of the Coast Guard’s fourth National Security Cutter, Hamilton.
“His efforts to build each case improved safety on the water to support successful prosecution,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Null, the operations petty officer at Coast Guard Station Marblehead.
“The Fleet Plan and Officer Exchange MOU build on the long history of cooperation between NOAA and the Coast Guard. Our shared responsibilities in serving the American people’s interests in the maritime domain are fortified by our even closer relationship,” said Coast Guard Vice Adm. Charles Michel, deputy commandant for operations.
The world relies on the sea for commerce. In fact, approximately 90 percent of world’s trade in goods is shipped by sea and that reliance continues to grow stronger with time. As Americans, we are connected to this global industry that powers the movement of goods and supports our way of life.
“Our crew used their unique capabilities and authorities as a military service, law enforcement agency, and member of the U.S. intelligence community to disrupt transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific and keep drugs from making it to the U.S.,” said Capt. Edward A. Westfall, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell. “These illegal drug networks are dangerous breeding grounds for all types of trafficking and their immense profits fuel violence and instability.”
Ask any Coast Guard man or woman and any Marine about Douglas Munro and you will instantly be taken back to the fateful day in 1942 when a Coast Guardsman gave his life so a detachment of Marines might live. To a woman or man, each will recite Munro’s last words to his best friend, Ray Evans, “Did they get off?” In many ways, Munro’s sacrifice is at the very core of the close relationship between the two services. And, all who hear Munro’s story instantly understand the bond between American brothers and sisters in arms and the true meaning of service to nation.