Despite its perennial shortages of money and resources, the Coast Guard’s proper place is within the Department of Homeland Security — not the Department of Defense, top Coast Guard leaders say.

A reported 14% proposed cut in the budget has not materialized out of the Trump administration, but it triggered new calls to move the nation’s fifth and smallest armed service into the DoD budget.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman for the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, in mid-March called on the Trump administration to consider the move. Last week, Hunter introduced H.R. 1726, the “Coast Guard Improvement and Reform Act of 2017,” that could pave the way for reorganization.

“First and foremost, the Coast Guard is a military force. It deserves to be housed in a department that recognizes the importance of its mission, and has the capabilities to properly advocate for greatly needed resources,” Hunter wrote in a March 16 letter to President Trump. “I urge your Administration to seriously consider moving the Coast Guard to the Department of Defense, and I stand ready to work with you to provide the necessary authorities.”

But Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft, while saying the service needs more robust funding, has also said Homeland Security is a good fit for the Coast Guard, given its missions.

Zukunft’s second in command, Adm. Charles Michel, affirmed as much Friday at the Military Reporters and Editors national conference in Arlington, Va.

Michel said the first budget proposal delivered by the White House included “a sustainment budget for the Coast Guard…that’s something we can work with and that’s what we’re marching forward on,” according to

Michel credited Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly with securing that budget, calling him “a great advocate for us.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.