Written by Rear Adm. Steven E. Day, acting director of Reserve and Military Personnel.
The Coast Guard Reserve has been a flexible, responsive and cost-effective workforce that has maintained its primary purpose of providing surge capacity for Coast Guard missions for 72 years.
The Coast Guard Reserve was established Feb. 19, 1941. Of the 214,000 personnel serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, nine out of 10 were reservists. Another 125,000 members served in the Temporary Reserve, which consisted of volunteers and Auxiliary members whose paid and unpaid services were needed in a military capacity for coastal and port security details.
Today, the Coast Guard Reserve consists of nearly 8,000 dedicated men and women who support the Coast Guard roles of maritime homeland security, national defense – domestic and expeditionary – and response to natural and man-made domestic disasters. Reservists are always ready to mobilize with critical competencies in boat operations, contingency planning and response, expeditionary warfare, marine safety, port security, maritime law enforcement and mission support.
Reservists bring a unique blend of civilian and military experience and proficiency to the Coast Guard. On any given day you will find members of this locally trained and ready force supporting a variety of Coast Guard missions across the country and overseas. And, as we have seen during surge events like Deepwater Horizon and more recently, Hurricane Sandy, this investment in time and training has an impact far beyond the local command’s area of responsibility and provides the nation with greater capacity and capability.
Through forward-leaning program initiatives and prudent budget management we are ensuring that our Reserve force is staffed, trained and supported to remain agile and ready to mobilize. In 2012 we completed the implementation of the Reserve Force Readiness System. This initiative has achieved notable efficiencies in the management of reservists assigned to drill at active duty units and made full-time support billets more closely focused on Reserve training requirements. In addition, the Concept of Reserve Employment initiative ensures training is better aligned to deliver the specific competencies required by the evolving manner in which operational commanders employ the Coast Guard Reserve.
As we celebrate this 72nd anniversary of the Coast Guard Reserve, it should be emphasized that mobilization is the Coast Guard Reserve’s primary purpose and function; and every day, through training and augmentation, reservists provide the vital surge capability that the citizens of our nation expect from the United States Coast Guard. As tightening budgets and increasing workloads continue to squeeze the active component’s capacity, the Coast Guard Reserve will continue to fill a vital role in the Commandant’s overall strategy to meet current mission requirements as well as the challenges and opportunities the future will bring.