Eyeing Cyber, Coast Guard Pursues More Specialized Jobs

Adm. Paul F. Zukunft (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)
Adm. Paul F. Zukunft (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Big changes may be on the horizon for the Coast Guard as its leaders look to further develop troops' skill sets and training.

Speaking at the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium Wednesday, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft said the service plans to add new subspecialties to existing jobs to emphasize competencies and areas for expansion.

"We are sub-specializing," Zukunft said. "We're not [looking at] ratings; we were never going to get rid of them."

The line was a subtle dig at the Navy, which announced last fall that it was replacing its job ratings titles with alphanumeric codes, but reversed the move in December amid a widespread outcry.

Zukunft provided few details about the upcoming change, but said the growing field of cyber security and warfare is one area of focus for developing new subspecialties. Another may be high-risk, independent special-duty assignments.

"When I look at some of our pursuit coxswains who will go off 150 miles, and they're making the kill/no-kill decisions without a good command-and-control line of authority, it takes a lot to train those guys," Zukunft said. "We are going to become a much more specialized Coast Guard going forward. And the good news is, we've got great talent right now, and what it's going to take is good leaders going forward in the future."

The Coast Guard currently has 19 active-duty enlisted ratings and several dozen special-duty assignments.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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