ISS3 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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d esperate Times Two months before sending the FY72 budget, the Director of OMB George Shultz had sent Volpe a memo, saying, "… I believe the original proposal was sound," and he added that there was no need for a reserve training program "whose missions and functions are essentially non-military in nature…" Volpe sent back a weakly-worded memo saying he would support the phase-out "if this is the President's decision." (Tellingly, within the same memo, he let Shultz know exactly how OMB could support the phase-out.) Shultz's "non-military" comment was alarming. Obviously, the director was not up to speed on Title 10 and Title 14. Lt. Cmdr. James Carson, testifying as a private citizen before the HASC in April 1971, pointed out this fact, saying that the "people responsible for the decision to phase-out the Selected Reserve… simply do not have sufficient knowledge to make the kind of national security decision they have made." Bender's staff wrote plans to phase out the Reserve TRACEN Yorktown, decommission the three reserve training cutters, close 150 ORTU facilities, and rehome the Reserve's fleet of 65 small boats. Internally, Bender's official correspondence with DOT and OMB continued to have no effect; he was effectively gagged by his department. Handy continued to ensure that the Congressmen could see OMB's statements rebutted with facts, point by point. Finally, Shultz sent a desperate letter to Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. "The time has come for an expression of support from the [DOD] for the Administration's position…" He enclosed a letter drafted in Laird's name confirming DOD's favorable view of the elimination, which Laird was supposed to sign and send to Rep. Pirnie, supporting Shultz's own letter to Pirnie. But Laird's staff was working with the ROA. Laird wrote his own memo to Pirnie, indicating that he was obligated to support the president, but that the Joint Chiefs disagreed with the action. Pirnie wrote to Shultz, expressing his disgust with both OMB and the White House. "Since when did your office become more competent to evaluate security missions than the Services?" Pirnie wrote. Figures Don't Lie, But… In early to mid-1970, DOT had begun withholding funding for Reserve recruiting. Only 15 men were recruited in the last six months of 1970, and Reserve strength dropped to less than 13,300 through attrition. Handy noted the diminishing numbers; hadn't Congress spoken on the matter? Handy, thankful for a job where he had enough time to work on both Treasury and Coast Guard problems, continued working through congressional channels with Bender, his seventh commandant. He reracked his fact sheets (I found at least eight versions in Handy's collection) to reflect Volpe's failure to maintain the Service he was legally responsible for. He also came up with a new tactic. A lawsuit. James B. Carson was the executive officer of the ORTU in Baltimore, and he owned a small law practice. Representing eight reservists, he sent letters to both Volpe and the Director of OMB, George T. Shultz, promising that unless they could prove Reserve recruiting had resumed, his clients would file suit. The Navy Times reported that Carson received a two-line reply from Volpe, "stalling" them, and no reply from Shultz. The suit was filed in mid-February. Carson also distributed copies of the lawsuit to select members of Congress. The Senate Subcommittee of Separation of Powers conducted hearings on "the question of executive impoundment of appropriated funds," and the complaint was published in the record of the hearings. When asked directly by the Navy Times about the recruiting issue, Volpe blamed the lack of appropriations bill but said of the elimination, "…[I]t seems to me that the administration and the [OMB] has (sic) a pretty good case." Of course, there were no copies of correspondence between Volpe and the Commandant, but by the end of March, reserve recruiting was quietly permitted to resume. Handy said one reason Volpe fought so hard is that he did not want to give up the Coast Guard to the Navy in times of war – he wanted the service available for non-military functions. He specified a Navy Times press conference during which an undersecretary for DOT reportedly said that the Volpe would seek legislation to change the requirement for the wartime shift. I found mention of it in a March 1971 edition of the Navy Times, and while vague, it seemed to lend foundation to Volpe's attempt to relieve the Coast Guard of its national security mission. Issue 3 • 2017 � RESERVIST 33

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