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An interesting chart showing the strength of various components of the Coast Guard’s personnel strength from the bottom of the post-WWII demobilization through FY2012.
In interpreting the chart, note that there are two different vertical axis scales.
A few things seem to stand out.
1. The Coast Guard has not been shrinking. There have been ups and downs but the size of the service is at or near an all time high. It is a little more than twice as large as it was in 1947, but to put that into perspective, the US population has also a bit more than doubled, so the number of Coasties as a percentage of the population is about the same, but not as high as it has been.
2. There was a dip in the number of auxiliarists about ten years ago, but this may be recovering.
3. Recently there has been a notable rise in the number of permanent civilian staff. Could these be (CG-9) Acquisitions staff?
4. The ratio of officers (O-1 and above) to enlisted has shown a steady rise. Where previously there were about one officer for seven or eight enlisted, there are now about one for six. Frankly this is not as much of a change as I thought it might have been.
We should stop saying the Coast Guard is smaller than the New York City Police Department. It is no longer true.
What we can say is, that the Coast Guard is, in terms of personnel, larger than the French Navy or Britain’s Royal Navy or any NATO navy, other than that of the US or Turkey.
I think it would also be true to say, that we have the oldest fleet, and not by just a little bit.