Coast Guard's highest ranking officer on mammoth tasks

On Memorial Day, Fox5' s Jennifer Lahmers hosts a new, half-hour special, "Always Ready: Inside the Coast Guard," at 9:30a.m., 5:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m.

Lahmers caught up with the Coast Guard's highest-ranking officer, Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz, on board a U.S.Coast Guard vessel in the East River.

"This is a place where it all has to run like clockwork," said Schultz.  "Otherwise, bad things happen."

It is a mammoth task leading one of the nation's five branches of the military.

The Coast Guard's most visible responsibilities include securing the nation's ports and borders, as well as stopping drugs from reaching our shores, which he says is the biggest challenge.

"We have visibility on more than three-quarters of it," he said. "With more we can do more, because we know where it is. It's like patrolling North America with five police cars."

Schultz says every day the Coast Guard is performing missions that go under the radar and beneath the headlines.

"You think about places people don't think of the Coast Guard," he said. "We're the face of the U.S. government in the Artic and Antartica."

Schultz says he is making diversity a priority.

"Today, less than 15% of our workforce is women," he said, "and as I look across other segments of society that are competitive, well, I think 50% of those workforces are women."

Schultz says one of his proudest moments was when members of the Coast Guard worked through the recent government shutdown. "41,500 uniformed people came to work and honored their solemn oath to support the Constitution every day," he said.