Coast Guard Reserve 76th Anniversary: Focused on the future

Happy 76th anniversary to the Coast Guard Reserve!

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Written by: Rear Adm. Kurt Hinrichs, Director of Reserve and Military Personnel

Coast Guard members from Port Security Unit 307, stationed in Clearwater, Fla., conduct live fire exercises in the Gulf of Mexico, June 11, 2015. The PSU is comprised of reserve and active duty Coast Guard personnel who maintain safety and security of the ports in their area of responsibility. (U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by George Papabeis)
Coast Guard members from Port Security Unit 307, stationed in Clearwater, Fla., conduct live fire exercises in the Gulf of Mexico, June 11, 2015. The PSU is comprised of reserve and active duty Coast Guard personnel who maintain safety and security of the ports in their area of responsibility. (U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by George Papabeis)

Anniversaries offer us a convenient opportunity to take a fix on how far we’ve come and to take stock of ourselves to determine if a course correction is necessary before continuing our journey. With this in mind, the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Coast Guard Reserve could not have come at a more opportune time in history. With the inauguration of a new president and the confirmation of a new secretary of Homeland Security, we have the opportunity to highlight our value to our nation and articulate a plan to best utilize our dynamic workforce.

Since February 19, 1941, the Coast Guard Reserve has been an invaluable force multiplier for responses to domestic and foreign contingency requirements. The Reserve has been an indispensable asset to local units by utilizing mobilization related skills and competencies in support of daily steady-state operations. The units awarded the Rear Admiral Bennett “Bud” Sparks Award will certainly attest to the power of a locally trained and ready Reserve.

At the dawning of our 76th year we find ourselves in an austere budget environment where we don’t have the resources to be an “All Threats, All Hazards” workforce. Accordingly, we must be future focused and build the best workforce we can to meet a narrower set of contingency response requirements. The first step in this direction was taken in September 2015, when Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Paul Zukunft, signed a decision memo defining the Reserve component as “a contingency-based workforce to meet the Coast Guard’s mobilization requirements within the prioritized mission areas of Defense Operations, PWCS, Incident Management and Response, and Mission Support.”

CHICAGO, Ill. (Aug. 17, 2003)--Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon Lowman, a reserve boatswains mate from Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., explains to a recreational boater why he is receiving a boating safety boarding during the Chicago Air and Water Show here. USCG photo by PA1 Paul Roszkowski
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jon Lowman, a reserve boatswains mate from Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor, Ill., explains to a recreational boater why he is receiving a boating safety boarding during the Chicago Air and Water Show here. USCG photo by PA1 Paul Roszkowski

Underpinning this requirements driven workforce is the Reserve Component Force Planning System (RC-FPS). The RC-FPS utilizes time-tested operational planning processes to bringing together Reserve Force Planners and Force Managers to balance the demand and supply side needs. Active and Reserve participation in this process will ensure the needs of all stakeholders are understood and addressed.

While we have been challenged as a component over the past few years, there are a great many opportunities available to us to highlight the value proposition represented by the Reserve and its most important asset – its people. We are actively working on Reserve Mission and Vision statements as well as a multi-year strategy for building the Reserve. Indeed, these are unique and exciting times.

To all members of the Coast Guard Reserve, the Coast Guard Reserve Force Master Chief Eric Johnson and I salute you and extend our hands in gratitude along with a well deserved “Bravo Zulu” to you for your continued commitment and sacrifice. Happy Anniversary and Semper Paratus!

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