This blog post is the 23rd in a series of posts highlighting the various specialties and subspecialties offered by the recently launched Officer Specialty Management System. Stay tuned as we share key information about each specialty/subspecialty in the coming weeks!
By Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane
What is the external affairs officer subspecialty (CG-MGT13)? The external affairs officer subspecialty is a certification given to officers who have attained an appropriate level of experience and training in the fields of public affairs or governmental affairs. External affairs, EA, is not a major career path, but much of the Coast Guard’s success in telling its story and shaping its social identity has been crafted by external affairs practitioners. Whether coordinating media relations for a large-scale operation, or supporting Coast Guard activities on Capitol Hill, the Coast Guard depends on the relationship with the people we serve to support us by maintaining open communications.
According to the Coast Guard External Affairs Manual, “The external affairs mission is to plan, coordinate, and implement communication strategies designed to build understanding, credibility, trust and mutually beneficial relationships with the publics who the Coast Guard serves.” As an element of operations, the Coast Guard needs skilled people to tell its story to a variety of audiences. The external affairs subspecialty was created to develop a corps of professionals the Coast Guard can rely on to effectively execute our external communication obligations.
“Being in public affairs has given me the opportunity to be creative and communicate effectively for the Coast Guard,” stated Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Klinker, Chief, Coast Guard Media Relations. “I think it’s important to get the right competencies to show assignment detailers what you have experience in. For me, as a former district public affairs officer, I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to have future assignments in the external affairs program. Getting the external affairs competency helped make that happen.”
“After being exposed to operations like Hurricane Katrina and Deepwater Horizon, I know how important it is for people to know what the Coast Guard does,” said Lt. Anastasia Visneski, Commandant, CG-0922, Digital Media Officer. “We serve the public, and in order for them to know what we do we have to tell our story. Public affairs is important in missions such as search and rescue and during disasters, because it is the primary way to get information to the public. Public affairs is a mission I wanted to be a part of, and that is why I pursued the external affairs subspecialty.”
To attain the CG-MGT13 subspecialty certification officers must hold either the public affairs officer competency or governmental affairs officer competency, hold a master’s degree in an EA-related discipline and attend external affairs contingency operations training. Another path to attain the CG-MGT13 subspecialty is to have a successful tour as a public affairs officer, governmental affairs officer, external affairs officer, congressional affairs staff member or Coast Guard fellow. Chief warrant officers are not eligible for the CG-MGT13 competency, but can attain it if selected into the CWO-LT program.
Visit the Coast Guard Public Affairs Professional Development page to find out more about public affairs and external communication. Contact the Coast Guard Public Affairs Programs office at (202) 372-4638 with any questions or to get more information.