The Coast Guard, like the Army, is grateful for historic increases in the 2018 and 2019 budgets, which reverse a seven-year decline in readiness funding, but the outgoing commandant is deeply concerned things will get worse soon. Even if Congress forestalls sequestration in 2020, warned Adm. Paul Zukunft, the long-term trends of an aging population and rising debt will put heavy pressure on the budget.
“There’s going to be question marks way beyond that,” Zukunft said after he was asked about 2020. “I look at an aging population. We’ve got tax reform. We’ve got a lot of potential conflict out in the world today… What is the discretionary budget going to look like in ’22, ’23, and beyond?”
If you think the competition for budget dollars is intense today, Zukunft warned reporters at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast, “it’s going to be even more competitive tomorrow.”