Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan has instructed her workforce management team to consider creative options such as a part-time active-duty employment track, or lateral entry and revolving door policies, to draw new personnel.
The Commandant seems to be willing to reimagine the personnel system. Does seem likely that shorter periods of commitment and guaranteed geographic stability in a station of choice could bring more people in.
Sounds like we might be headed for a kind of military reserve/civilian hybrid.
Something we might think about is a professional mariner that can sign on for a voyage and is off entirely when it is completed. It works for Military Sealift Command, but rather than civilians, they might be Reservists. Probably would require a lot higher sea pay.
Thanks to Blake for bringing this to my attention. Blake tells me, “Turns out she already has the authority to do this using the Temporary Reserve program that has laid dormant in federal law since ww2.”
I led teams in the 80s and 90s looking I’m great detail at both recruiting and retention. The research spawned many academic papers and conferences, and put me in front of a House Subcommittee.
In this current workforce crisis, I have heard nothing new, with one exception: we seem to have a Commandant who is willing to take some risks and try new(ish) ideas.
My meta-conclusion from years of work: give people more control over their destiny. Give them tools to help them plan their future. Most of the innovative ideas I see floating around fit in that category.
I might be willing to expand/explain those concepts for a good cause.
Stephen Wehrenberg, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org 301-580-9684
A couple of ideas I believe the Commandant should try
1. Up the age limit for those with professional credentials, degrees and professional license to come in. For example current licensed & Sword police officers that can come in to the Guard as a warrant officer or even a direct petty officer based on their experience. The same can be said for Paramedics/RN’s
2. Expand the Warrant officer corp from it’s current, W2 to W4 to WO-1 to CW-5 for those who have professional credentials, degrees, professional license and experiences that can easily translate into the USCG.
3. Expand the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, except for going to war including rear security missions. Including bringing back the Temporary reserve that has the ability to place the USCG Auxiliary in temporary reserve status for the duration of the Mission.
I would look for ways to expand and use the Coast Guard Auxiliary in more and different ways. Probably not desirable but I think we are to the point of handling the missions vs what is optimal.
I wonder if if would help or hurt to change the Coast Guard mission to only be used in US waters unless at time of war (not national emergencies) turning it back into a law enforcement organization as opposed to a paramilitary one.
Great idea, but too little, too late. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard has been missing opportunities to get some great people, and I have a personal example: my own son.
My son recently graduated from Rutgers School of Engineering. I read about the Coast Guard’s “Direct Commission Engineer Program,” and according to what the Coast Guard websites said, my engineering-graduate son had all the right qualifications for the program. So I suggested my son apply for the Direct Commission Engineer program, and he went to our local Coast Guard recruiting station.
To our surprise, the recruiter told him that — contrary to what the Coast Guard websites say — the Direct Commission Engineer program is (according to the recruiter) really intended for people who are already enlisted in the Coast Guard and have somehow managed to get degree in engineering while serving as an enlisted Coastie.
Doesn’t that narrow the field of applicants considerably? I mean, how many coasties have time to get an engineering degree — which takes at least four years, often five or six years — while working full-time as a Coastie? Why even have a “direct-commission engineering program” if you’re not going to do direct commissions from among civilian engineering graduates? Why does the Coast Guard have webites about the Direct Commission Engineering program that list all the requirements but never, ever mention that you (allegedly) have to already be a coastie before applying for the program? Is the Coast Guard so overflowing with engineering graduates in the enlisted ranks that they can’t accept civilians with engineering degrees, even though their website teases civilian engineers into thinking the Coast Guard will welcome them?
My son and I (well, mostly I) were disappointed that the Coast Guard turned down a such a bright, athletic, clean-cut, 26-year-old engineering graduate who would have been a perfect fit for the job, a real asset to the Coat Guard. But a couple weeks later, my son got a job with a civilian engineering company. The civilian engineering company’s gain was the Coast Guard’s loss, not my son’s loss!
Hmm, maybe I should email this to my son’s recruiter who turned him down (again, the Coast Guard’s loss, not my son’s).
Recruiting/Retention is a problem in all of the services and also a problem in all countries. Population shrinkage is one part of it. A lack of patriotism among the younger generations is also a major part.
Many small countries (Israel, Switzerland, etc.) rely on conscription for a very short time to give every able-bodied young person basic training and skills, and then kick them to unorganized reserve status. I like this idea from both a national defense and recruiting standpoints. Early exposure to military life might attract more recruits who would never have considered volunteering before.
I also see a benefit to a part-time model, where the Reserves are expanded and personnel have the opportunity to rotate through yearly periods of “reserve status” to have some control over their lives; however, when there is a manpower shortage already, there will be a transition period where this makes things worse in the short term, before enough people are attracted by the system to fill out the billets. Another problem is this will necessitate a larger workforce than traditionally required, because a larger percentage of personnel will be in reserve status at any point in time.
I’m not sure what will work, but it’s great to see the Commandant focusing on the issue.