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Saturday, October 20, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

On June 1, Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz took over as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard from Adm. Paul F. Zukunft. Both of these men have proved the value in great leadership, and a true leader must rally his or her troops to be effective.

As commandant, Zukunft strived for a strategically focused Coast Guard, ready to not only protect the American people at sea and in our homeland but help them in any situation. He used an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to tackle the challenges facing the service and the Department of Homeland Security.

Under his command, the Coast Guard saved more than 12,000 Americans during the 2017 hurricane season, many of whom had their homes and livelihoods destroyed. During this time, Coast Guard men and women operated in areas where the service is not usually seen. But through his leadership, they helped restore the hurricane-stricken areas back to working condition. In addition, it is through Zukunft’s efforts that Congress provided the service with enough resources to help rebuild its own homes and facilities affected by the hurricanes.

During his tenure as commandant, he strived to build up the government and the public’s trust and confidence in the Coast Guard. Under his watch, it received clean financial audit opinions reinforcing his leadership in utilization of government resources. Thanks to his tireless efforts and outreach to Congress, the service received record-breaking funding for 2018. Zukunft was fond of stating that the Coast Guard prides itself as a service that punches above its weight class and that its funding needs to reflect the power of its punch.

The Navy League recognized his years of service during the Sea-Air-Space Exposition’s Maritime Gala in April, where Zukunft received the inaugural Semper Paratus award, an honor given to government leaders who exemplify the Coast Guard ethos of honor, respect and devotion to duty.

Adm. Schultz is more than capable of carrying the torch for the Coast Guard, steering the service so it can work to gain the $750 million for a new heavy icebreaker and recapitalize its infrastructure.

I’m sure if you asked either of these men what makes these accomplishments and goals attainable, it would be the men and women who work to push the mission of the Coast Guard every day. And the same is true for the Navy League of the United States.

Our National Convention in Portland, Oregon, was a resounding success because of the input of each of our members and attendees, particularly the Portland Council, who were so thoughtful and dedicated with their support this year. Each session provided our members the chance to engage in person, revitalizing our commitment to each other and allowing us all to work as a team, whether it was through our committees, training sessions, our awards luncheons or even our social events.

This year’s Fireside Chat session, where any member could ask a question or discuss a topic, was a par­ti­cular highlight for me. It showed that every one of us is focused on how to make the Navy League just a little bit better.

That drive is certain to propel our mission to new heights and serves as a wonderful reminder that we are supporting our sea services — all of which have a legacy of leadership and teamwork — with leadership and teamwork of our own.

One Team — Mission Focused