Written by Lt. James McKnight, CG-1311
The Coast Guard Reserve exists to provide operationally capable and ready personnel to support Coast Guard surge and mobilization requirements in the homeland and abroad. To be able to accomplish this, the Reserve force needs to be trained and competent.
Over the last few years, the Office of Reserve Affairs, Commandant CG-131, has worked hard to improve the training availability to members, streamline allocation of C School quotas, maximize the return on investment of the Reserve Training (RT) appropriation, and better communicate training usage to the field. Though not an all-inclusive list, outlined below are a few of the more noteworthy initiatives that have come to fruition.
In March 2016, an iDashboard was established to provide information to field units on C School courses for which the Coast Guard Reserve has paid quotas and, equally important, utilization rates of those quotas that get updated throughout the Fiscal Year (FY). This increased transparency for the unit and member allows for accurate reporting of quota utilization and enables users to see both which quotas were purchased by the Reserve Program and which were provided to the reservists but not paid for by the RT appropriation. The new dashboard can be accessed through the Reserve website. Connection to the CGOne network is required. The dashboard is updated quarterly to show quotas used to date and which courses were attended by reservists.
In February 2016, an improved process in how the Coast Guard Reserve gains access to courses through the C School quota build process was implemented. Previously, the Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM), Training Division began the build process in February each year by compiling the list of courses and offering all of the programs an opportunity to pay for seats in each course. In years’ past, the Coast Guard Reserve would be the last to gain access to the course list after all other active duty programs had completed their allocations. The Coast Guard Reserve would then pick from what was left over, paying for seats in the courses required for individual qualifications. Often times though, the amounts and types of courses that were required could not be purchased due to limited quota availability.
In a new process, the Coast Guard Reserve has been afforded the opportunity to be one of the first programs to view course allocations and purchase seats. In 2017, CG-131 is going into the course build, with the support of other programs such as Deputy Commandant for Operations (DCO) and Director of Operational Logistics (DOL), and selecting the courses that fit the needs of reservists attempting to fulfill training requirements. This ground-breaking change greatly shifts the paradigm that we have been working under for the last decade by giving the Coast Guard Reserve better, more inclusive access to much needed training. In making this change, commands and reservists will be better able to plan their training throughout the year.
“FORCECOM is very excited about the strategic partnership with the Reserve program codified through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),” reports Cmdr. Steve Ramassini, FORCECOM-Training, Mission Support Branch Chief. “This relationship will provide the Reserve program total visibility and access to the approved C School list and assist them in their goal of balancing fiscal stewardship and Reserve readiness throughout the entire Reserve workforce.”
According to Ramissini, the partnership under this MOU will enable the Force Readiness Command Training
Management staff to have a single touch point for all Reserve workforce training needs. The introduction of this efficiency will ensure more consistent service across the Reserve workforce, total visibility for the Reserve program related to the training demand signal, and enables the FORCECOM Training Management team the ability to better serve and support the Reserve program’s diverse requirements for maintaining deployment and readiness standards.
Ramissini went on to note that the relationship puts the Reserve program in the driver seat for total workforce management to include training needs across the geographically dispersed area of operations. The total visibility and access will enable the Reserve program to coordinate directly with the Reserve workforce, maximizing the impact of the scarce resources available to this critical component of the Coast Guard workforce. “We in FORCECOM Training are extremely excited about the blossoming of this partnership and look forward to continuing support the Reserve Program in the effective management of their workforce.”
Recently, CG-131 and other key stakeholders re-engineered the Reserve Individual Training Plan (ITP) and created a new communication, planning and management system that facilitates coordinated training against position-required competencies and career progression requirements. The new system, called Coast Guard Reserve-Training Management System (CGR-TMS), was announced in ALCOAST COMMANDANT NOTICE (ACN) 022/17. It creates a top-down, service-required approach that completely reengineers how Reserve training plans are communicated to members, their commands, and RT appropriation managers. The new CGR-TMS leverages Coast Guard Business Intelligence (CGBI) source data to accomplish four tasks:
• Calculate resident and exportable training demand for CG-131 RT appropriation managers, driven by position-required competencies and career progression requirements;
• Build priority candidate slates for resident and exportable training opportunities to be used by Reserve Force Readiness System (RFRS) staff and/or unit training officers to ensure the right reservists are slated for the right training. This will optimize Active Duty for Training – Annual Training (ADT-AT) spending by aligning scarce C School quotas to established position and advancement requirements, as well as prioritize any other training requests to remaining RT funding;
• Allow for direct quota allocation of CG-131 funded C Schools so that targeted members can be slated early in the fiscal year (FY); and
• Provide an annual ITP for each individual member to facilitate supervisor-to-member counseling at the start of each new FY. The new ITP requires no data entry; it will provide details of individual reservists’ current participation, administrative and medical readiness metrics; and details about courses (online/resident/exportable) relevant to position-required and advancement competencies.
Additionally, the new CGR-TMS increases involvement by RFRS staffs at the DOL, Area, and District levels by affording them the opportunity to have an increased amount of input into the prioritization of members requiring C School training. DOL, Area, and District RFRS will use the CGR-TMS candidate report to formulate a prioritized list of C School candidates. CG-131 will then communicate the total number of available quotas after the annual Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM) C-School quota build process is complete. That information will be used to prioritize a list of candidates to allocated seats. CG-131 will communicate back to DOL, Area, and District RFRS the candidates selected for each convening of any RT funded C-School quotas. This allows for earlier communication of course attendance to members well in advance of the actual convening date of each course.
Finally, the Coast Guard Reserve has been given access to populate the course roster seats directly, in essence, becoming a slate manager for Coast Guard Reserve funded C School quotas. In a newly established collaborative process with FORCECOM, CG-131 will begin selecting members and allocating seats for C School courses according to needs of the Service based on information within the CGR-TMS.
“An unfortunate by-product of the centrally managed system (ETR based, first-come, first served) is that quotas are filled primarily based on proactive units who diligently submit for trainings, not necessarily where the greatest operational need truly is,” notes Lt Cmdr. Robert Hill, Commanding Officer, Training Management Center (TQC). “Additionally, in this system, all units Coast Guard-wide are competing for limited quotas, and special needs of many reservists are not taken into account, such as, a reservist with full time employment outside of the Coast Guard that is limited in availability for which sessions of a course they can attend.
Hill adds that by researching other programs and best practices, FORCECOM and Office of Reserve Affairs (CG-131) have partnered together to provide CG-131 the ability to enroll specific reservists into specific sessions of a course; this ensures that CG-131 is receiving the return on investment (programmatic needs being met by the training system) that it should, which in turn further ensures the overall operational readiness of the Coast Guard. “From TQC’s perspective, it’s helping to meet our mission of getting the right people to the right training at the right time. This is truly a case of a win-win for all stakeholders and I’m glad to have been a part of getting this process put into place,” Hill reports.
The DOL, Area, and District RFRS will have the responsibility to identify, by name, members in their AORs who are identified by priority candidate reports from CGR-TMS as having the highest priority to attend training when quota allocations are communicated to them by CG-131. The priority lists will be used in populating rosters for each course the Coast Guard Reserve has purchased a quota to attend. This allows for more advanced notice to members of C School attendance and controlled allocation of quotas based on our Service needs. This initiative also maximizes cost efficiencies by providing the ability to forecast our budget needs for courses all the way throughout the FY. Our anticipation is that when the C School course convening schedule is approved and published, CG-131 will be able to go into the rosters at the beginning of the FY and populate them with Reserve members that have the highest priority based on Service need according to the CGR-TMS and input from the Areas and the DOL.
Our goal is to continue to have the best trained force to meet the ever growing needs of our service. These new initiatives make significant strides in prioritizing who gets training when and, at the same time, maximizing lead times to assist reservists in accommodating the civilian schedules. This collaborative effort is a huge part of making our Reserve the best qualified, most effective dedicated surge force it can be.