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The Coast Guard's Volunteer Force: Service to the Nation at Bargain Basement Prices
The Coast Guard's Volunteer Force:
Service to the Nation at Bargain Basement Prices

 

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October 11, 2004

Page 2


Today Is the Future

However, the future is here today. To meet the increased demands of the Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security has recently mandated that all members of the Coast Guard: Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary be qualified in terms of security.

Security is one of those terms that have a certain vagueness associated with it. Today, at least in terms of the Coast Guard and its Auxiliary, security has been divided into two aspects, Operational Support and Direct Operational Support.

Approximately one third of the Auxiliary will fall into the Direct Operational category. These members hold qualifications involving surface operations, air operations, operations planning, interpreting, CMD/OPCEN/COMMS watchstanding, marine safety and security operations, and other positions as determined by Coast Guard operational commanders….

The remainder of the Auxiliary will fall into the Operational Support category.
Accordingly, a new level of trust, built on need, has been established. While the current program to fingerprint and perform background checks on those categorized as Direct Operational will take approximately three years, those who are cleared will be part of the "new" Auxiliary.

"New" Auxiliary

As ADM Loy, former Commandant of the Coast Guard stated, "Our challenge for the future is to determine what the new normalcy represents in terms of mission requirements and the associated operational activity, while also ensuring that the Coast Guard is able to provide forces to meet its military service responsibilities for supporting the war against terrorism both at home and abroad."

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To this end, at least in terms of the transformation of the Coast Guard and its Auxiliary, it is a stepped-up role in areas that require the Coast Guard to know who is actually "in" their Auxiliary.

Aside from the actual results of the security process, and the anticipated loss of Auxiliarists, either to "retirement status" or resignation, the transformation has begun.

Examples of increased integration can be found at multiple levels, from educational to operational.

In the Auxiliary First Southern District (part of the First Coast Guard District) which covers the Metropolitan New York Area, as well as parts of Connecticut and Vermont, as well as New Jersey, several programs have been implemented that were not part of the Auxiliary landscape.

Specifically, winter operations by Auxiliarists had long been banned, due to increase risk of hypothermia, and lack of equipment and specialized training. These risks have been mitigated by the acquisition of Dry Suits, and other foul weather gear, specialized training and qualification programs.

Multiple daily air patrols by the aviation wing of the First Southern District which includes sensitive areas of the New York Metropolitan Area are conducted. These patrols, both in intensity, and breadth, too were not part of the Auxiliary landscape.

Currently, the Auxiliary National Training Center is in discussions with the Coast Guard's Office of Workforce Performance, Training & Development (G-WTT) to assist, create and/or manage certain training and testing programs, for the Coast Guard, which includes both Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary members.

Recently the Coast Guard Office for Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (G-M) published multiple Personal Qualification Standards (PQS) for Auxiliarists to help meet the demands of field Marine Safety Offices (MSO). This broad based support for, and inclusion in, MSO operations brings the Auxiliarist closer and closer to"parity" with their Active Duty brethren.
Other activities that have Auxiliary participation, such as trial programs such as Marksmanship Instruction and Intelligence Gathering have sprung up. These areas have always been off-limits to Auxiliarists, regardless of prior experience and background.

Road Bumps

There are still many road bumps to overcome. Problems exist from both within the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard. Issues, from years gone by, such as accountability and reliability still shadow many Auxiliarists in the eyes of the Enlisted.

Professionalism, in terms of actual behavior and perceived behavior needs to be addressed from within. Small, inane facts of life, such as titles can negatively impact both performance and perception.

In a recent article in Newsday, about the Civil Air Patrol, Newsday, by properly utilizing CAP titles, lent an impression of professionalism that the Auxiliary lacks. It is the lack of [quasi-] military titles that hamper public understanding of the Auxiliary and hence the Auxiliarists view of their professional status.

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While a title is only a placebo, since there is no military authority behind them, the Coast Guard and the public need and demand all members of the Coast Guard, which in every definition includes the Auxiliary to be a professional service, beyond reproach.

These bumps will be addressed over time, solved, and new bumps, like in every organization will appear. Organizations are like adolescents, the acne never really goes away…until its too late, and they are the elderly.

Conclusion

In the next few years, as the Coast Guard grows, in both manpower and assets (due to several large scale projects to replace its existing Deepwater fleet, as well as Communications net), the need for the Auxiliary will grow as well.

A force of 40,000 volunteers, trained, qualified, security cleared that can assist not only in surge operations, but in normal day to day operations will increase the effectiveness of this military and law enforcement service.

Every day, dedicated Active Duty, Reserve, Civilians, and Auxiliarists work hard at both achieving the goals of the Coast Guard, the Auxiliary, the Department of Homeland Security and the public, but at making the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard the most professional organization in the world.

Both the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary have been, are and will always be the premier Stewards of both the Oceans and Maritime Safety and Security.

The Coast Guard's motto is Semper Paratus - Always Ready. This means that not only will it be always ready for transformation and change, but so will the Auxiliary, a service to the nation at a bargain rate.

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