CIMSEC has an interesting article by a serving officer, Lt. Joseph O’Connell.

He starts off talking about gapped billets in the Coast Guard in general, 200 in 2021, but then concentrates on gapped afloat billets, 11 in 2021.

” This shortage grows more acute when considering the critical billets O3 and O4 officers fill aboard Coast Guard cutters: Operations Officers, Engineer Officers, Executive Officers, and Commanding Officers, depending on the cutter class.”

I am sure his observations are accurate, as far as they go, but I think he may have missed an important aspect of the Coast Guard’s assignment policies that has resulted in many officers, with sea going ambitions, making the choice to leave the service at the O-3/4 level. If we don’t do something differently, the problem is going to get worse.

As the Coast Guard continues to bring new hulls online while operating legacy assets the demand for afloat officers will far outstrip the limited and dwindling supply, with projections anticipating a 25% increase in cutter billets from current levels.

A change in personnel assignment policy could make a big difference.

I am long out of the service, so it is best if you check to see if my assumptions are correct.


  • The ambition of most seagoing officers is ultimately to have a command afloat.
  • Being a department head or XO is not an end in itself. It should be seen as a step toward command.
  • Assignment officers are more likely to select an officer to command if they have had a previous successful command tour.
  • If an O-3 sees that it is extremely unlikely he will ever get a command, he is unlikely to seek a department head or XO job and may very well leave the service.


Coast Guard personnel policies have created a situation where if you have not gotten a command as an E-3, it is unlikely you ever will.

The service is procuring 65 Webber class WPCs. At least 51 have already been commissioned. While a few are commanded by warrants or O-4s, generally they are commanded by O-3s. These and the few other O-3 afloat command billets create a large pool of potential future COs to choose from.

Those that have been or expect to be O-3 COs are unlikely to seek billets as department heads or XOs.

Those who miss the opportunity to command at the O-3 level, will see little chance they will be an afloat CO in the future.


Make command of a Webber class an O-4 billet.

Require that those selected to command Webber class WPCs will have completed a successful department head or XO afloat tour.


While some may feel command of a patrol craft requires only a junior officer, consider that these little ships, unlike WPBs, are doing all the same missions as an MEC (except the aviation component) with a smaller crew and fewer senior personnel to advise and support the CO. These ships generally operate independently, unlike Navy patrol craft which generally operate in groups under a squadron commander. We are seeing some of them embark on voyages of thousands of miles, operating outside US waters.

This policy would provide an incentive for officers to seek department head or XO tours as O-3s.

The Officers chosen to be COs at the O-4 level will be more experienced and more mature.

The service will have had more time to evaluate the officers prior to assignment including direct observation by a CO afloat, who should make a recommendation for or against a future command afloat.

Ultimately some officers will determine that they really have no chance of getting a CO afloat tour, but it will happen later in their career, when they may have found other rewarding work and they are less likely to leave the service.

“‘Protect. Defend. Save’: Coast Guard Launches New Recruiting Initiatives to Attract Members” –Military.Com

(U.S. Coast Guard illustration)

Military.com has a post about the Coast Guard’s new recruiting initiative including the new logo above.

I really like the closing paragraphs,

To continue to provide a high level of operations, Fagan said, the service will need a 3% to 5% budget increase each year, which means, by 2033, the Coast Guard would be a “$20 billion a year organization.”

“I’m certain you will not find a better return on investment for the American people,” Fagan said.

Choice of words is important. Defend and perhaps protect, suggest to me, more emphasis on the Defense Readiness mission. Wonder if that was really the intention?

“Women Leaders Discuss Benefits of Military Service” –DOD

Passing along this news release from DOD that features the Commandant.

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention.

Women Leaders Discuss Benefits of Military Service

The leaders spoke today at the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

Three people in military dress uniform add rank pins onto a female military officer.

Coast Guard Adm. Linda L. Fagan, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said the Coast Guard of the 1980s was a lot different than what it is today.

“This just speaks to the journey and so many people that have made the opportunity for us here today,” she said.

One of her primary focus areas as commandant, she said, concerns talent and workforce management, making it easier for not only women, but all who want to serve and be able to take advantage of all the opportunities.

Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, said women have come a long way since they were first allowed to serve 75 years ago.

A woman in military dress uniform speaks.

Restrictions were lifted 30 years ago on women being allowed to fly fighter aircraft in combat and 10 years ago restrictions on women being in ground combat were removed, she said.

“Our progress has been accelerating, but we have a way to go, and we’re working on that,” she said.

Historically, militaries reflected the societies that support them. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the all-volunteer force, she said. The force will continue to evolve to incorporate all talents and demographics of America. And this is especially true today during the era of global strategic competition.

Van Ovost said we need diversity of thought, experience and capabilities all pulled together, because we’re dealing with hard problems and strategic competition and we need everyone at the table supporting us.

“That’s why we have to continue to recruit and retain talented women and men in our service, capable of thinking creatively, differently, innovating with the technology that we have, so that we can create new concepts and capabilities so that we can remain first and foremost, the most lethal fighting force in the world,” she said.

Army Gen. Laura J. Richardson, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said we have a way to go to connect with the U.S. population, particularly youngsters, and explain the benefits of service.

A woman in military uniform speaks to three men in military uniform. A helicopter is in the background.

There is a wide variety of jobs in the military, many of which would interest young people, she said.

About 72% of today’s youth doesn’t know much about the military or opportunities available to them, she said. It’s incumbent on those who serve or have served to get the word out.

“You are impacting national security and global security every single day in the military you wake up,” she said.

Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti, vice chief of naval operations said March, which is Women’s History Month, is a nice time “to pause and reflect on those pioneers and leaders [who] went before us who were able to work hard, break down barriers and put in place the changes in law, in policy and culture that enabled all of us to be here today,” she said.

Four people in military uniform hold a discussion.

The theme of today’s event, she said, is “Beyond Firsts.”

“I am really happy to see us nearing an end of all the firsts,” she said, referring to women breaking the military glass ceiling.

Women help to bring the “critical thinking skills, that we need to be able to be the world’s most formidable fighting force, ready to deter, fight and win whenever the nation needs us to do so,” she said.

All four women discussed how difficult it was three decades ago to serve and to gain respect from male leaders and how they persevered.

Following the discussion, a portrait unveiling ceremony was held in honor of the first female African American Air Force general officer, Maj. Gen. Marcelite J. Harris.

“Philippine Coast Guard Set For Personnel Boost” –Naval News

BRP Teresa Magbanua during sea trials off Japan (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

Naval News reports,

“The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is set to receive an additional 4,000 personnel this year, in order to reach a total of 30,000 by year-end.”

Some things to note:

That is almost 75% the size of the US Coast Guard, while the Philippine EEZ is less than 20% of the US.

The Philippine Coast Guard will be considerably larger than the Philippine Navy which has 24,500 active-duty members including 8,300 Marines.

BRP Batangas (SARV-004) in between USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) and BRP Kalanggaman (FPB-2404) in an Exericse held in 2019. For many years, the Australian San Juan and Ilocos Norte vessels were the only major patrol assets in PCG service.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer John Masson)

Until 2020 the Philippine Coast Guard had no large patrol cutters. Their largest ships were two buoy tenders including the former USCGC Redbud, first commissioned in 1944. In fact, they mark the founding of their Coast Guard Fleet only as of 2007.

Beginning in 2020 the Philippine Coast Guard has obtained their first large patrol cutter, the 83 meter BRP Gabriela Silang. In 2022 they obtained two Japanese built 97 meter cutters of the Teresa Magbanua-class (see lead photo). They hope to get many more.

This build-up is obviously in response to Chinese intrusions into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

It appears the Philippine Coast Guard still has no weapons larger than .50 caliber machine guns. It will be interesting to see if this changes.

“USNI News Interview: Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan”

Adm. Linda Fagan in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle in New London, Conn., Aug 19, 2022. US Coast Guard Photo

The US Naval Institute has an excellent interview with the Commandant. The lead off is about steps being taken to lower barriers to both service entry and long-term service.

“The Coast Guard commandant has a message for the country – she’s hiring.

“The Coast Guard is feeling an acute recruiting crunch across both officer and enlisted ranks, so reforming the service workforce is at the top of Adm. Linda Fagan’s agenda and the centerpiece of the Coast Guard’s latest strategy that rolled out in October.”

But there is a lot more to the interview. She also talks about cutter recapitalization, the helicopter fleet, and the Coast Guard’s increasing role internationally.

You may have noticed that “we are hiring” signs are up all over the country. There is a structural labor shortage in the country as job creation is way up, unemployment is at record lows, and “boomers” are finally leaving the work force. As a result, the Commandant is looking hard at ways to recruit and retain members, including recognizing prior work experience. Likely the average age of the workforce is going to increase. This is all to the good. Experience and guile beat youth and enthusiasm every time.

It is worth noting that, over the last 30 years, the number of Coast Guard personnel authorized has increased while the size of the other four military branches, not surprisingly, have decreased. (DOD active-duty personnel are down 36%.) While I don’t have a figure for 1993, in Oct 1989, it appears the Coast Guard’s active-duty allowance was 36,899 personnel. Current authorization is 44,500. That would be a 20.6% increase.

Some Posts of Interest

Bell’s V-280 prototype

There have been some posts that may be of interest published recently that I will point to below, with only brief comments.

“The New Coast Guard Funding Bill Is Really Good For The USCG” –Forbes There is a lot here, but you should recognize that this is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), not an actual budget. It is not uncommon to have items in the authorization that are not included in the corresponding budget, so we have to wait a little longer to see what is actually funded.

The Coast Guard is directed to complete a number of studies. I hope they will be completed and delivered to Congress, but they may not be and if they are, we may never know. I have been told, a lot of reports get delivered late, because there is little penalty, and the committees don’t need to inform anyone else of whether they have received a report they requested.

“Some Fun Coast Guard Reads In Forbes” –Next Navy: This talks about the post above and a second post that suggests that the Coast Guard replace the C-27 with the Army’s recently selected V-280. I think the production version of the V-280 has a good chance of finding a place in the Coast Guard. Ultimately it might even replace all our land-based helicopters and all the fixed wing aircraft except the C-130, but that is many years in the future. It’s premature to consider replacing the C-27. (Thanks to Walter for bringing this to my attention.)

“Expand Seattle Coast Guard base without impacting working waterfront”: The local longshoremen’s union takes issue with the three proposals for expansion of Base Seattle. (Thanks to Mike for bringing this to my attention.)

“MOAA Interview: Coast Guard Commandant Charts the Path Forward” Admiral Zukunft emphasized the Cutter recapitalization. Admiral Schultz spent a lot of time talking about shoreside infrastructure. Admiral Fagan’s emphasis is on personnel issues, e.g., recruiting, incentives for afloat billets, afloat billets for women, and women the Coast Guard in general. There is also a nod to the Arctic.

“Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative” –MyCG

Masked members of the cutter James crew and Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz (front, center), along with interagency partners, stand among interdicted narcotics at Port Everglades, Florida, on June 9. U.S. COAST GUARD / Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Murray

Just passing this along from MyCG. Note that one of the three ratings included in the program is culinary specialists (CS), reflecting the apparent cronic shortage in the rating. Presumably we are short electrician’s mates (EM), and health service technicians (HS) as well.

Coast Guard launches new Lateral Entry initiative

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Writer, Nov. 17, 2022

The Coast Guard is launching a new Lateral Entry Beta Test initiative to fill key gaps in the workforce. As part of the Commandant’s intent to transform the total workforce, the Lateral Entry Working Group (LEWG) has developed a new, smooth, and streamlined process to recruit, train, and place candidates with matching skillsets and suitable military experience into critical roles in the service in fiscal year 2023 (FY23). The LEWG used the Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Protocols to develop the Lateral Entry Determination Calls (LEDC) Protocols to govern the process.

“The intent is to bring quality applicants into the Coast Guard at a grade commiserate with their existing skillsets,” said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Edward Lewis of Force Readiness Command (FORCECOM). This new process will create accountability, foster collaboration, and build a tailored training program that will help the Coast Guard meet the challenges of the next decade and beyond.

For Lewis and the Working Group, balancing the need for new recruits with preserving the age-old values of the Coast Guard is paramount. “Our fundamental goal is to protect the culture of the Coast Guard,” Lewis emphasized.  “However, we must seek new methods of accession, training, and managing, talent that preserve our competitive edge as an employer of choice.

The LEWG is focusing on filling key roles to strengthen the service. “We are trying to ensure that our workforce can meet missions. We’re looking hard at places where we are shorthanded,” Lewis added. “The recruiting effort is really going to be driven by critical ratings,” including culinary specialist (CS), electrician’s mate (EM), and health service technician (HS). Depending on the outcome of this pilot program, other ratings may be added to this priority list in the future.

The new lateral entry determination protocols will be evaluated regularly throughout FY23.

If you have any questions, please contact Russell Kirkham at Russell.A.Kirkham@uscg.mil or 202-795-6848.


“The Coast Guard Must Take Action to Send Women Afloat” –USNI

The US Naval Institute blog has a post entitled “The Coast Guard Must Take Action to Send Women Afloat, writen by Cadet Second Class Kyra Holmstrup, U.S. Coast Guard, who said that she was fortunate to spend a long summer cruise on a National Security Cutter but noted her experience was the exception.

Third-class summer is vital to future career selection in the Coast Guard. Without having gone afloat on an NSC, I would not be at CGA today. Seeing the world from the bridge helped me identify the reason why I joined and solidified the leadership lessons I learned as they guide me through my 200-week leadership journey. If this is not addressed now, our service risks losing the diversity and relevance the Coast Guard has so desperately worked to attain. To the senior leaders at CGA and in the Coast Guard: Make it a priority to send female cadets afloat for summer assignments and provide cadets with opportunities to experience different underway platforms. The focus should be on providing prospective female officers with earlier exposure to the afloat community starting at CGA with cadets like me. Not enough female cadets experience adequate time on board cutters early on in their careers; if female cadets did, the Coast Guard would see an increase in the number that go and—more importantly—stay afloat.

Earlier USNI had another post,“Fixing the Coast Guard Academy’s Priorities” that we discussed here. It appears all cadets, not just female cadets, are not getting enough experience afloat with operational units.

Our credibility in all mission areas is predicated on our experience as a seagoing organization. All Coasties, particularly officers, need at least some experience afloat.

Updated: “Navy Used 16-Year-Old Law Made to Boost Army Recruiting to Raise Enlistment Age for Sailors” –USNI

The US Naval Institute’s News Service reports,

The Navy will now allow men and women up to age 41 to enlist in the service, a new change in policy for which it has the Army to thank.

Under the change, made by Navy Recruiting Command this month, the new maximum age for Navy recruits is 41, as long as the person enlisting can report to training before their 42nd birthday, according to the new policy.

Don’t think it would hurt the Coast Guard to follow this policy change.

Update: The Coast Guard has raised the age limit. See the Comments.

“Making Space for Women Aboard Coast Guard Cutters Helps with Retention, Careers” –Seapower

BM3 Hailey LaRue of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Wire in Saugerties, New York, in 2021. LaRue was able to serve on the Wire after Senior Chief Petty Officer Ramona Mason worked with service officials to create extra rack space. U.S. COAST GUARD / Daniel Henry

The Navy League’s on-line Magazine, Seapower, reports on Coast Guard efforts to open additional afloat billets to enlisted women.

“Today more women are remaining in our service lon­ger,” Schultz said in his annual State of the Coast Guard speech in 2022. “Today we have 375 more women in the service at the critically important E6/E7 and O-4 mid-grade leadership ranks than we had five years ago in 2017… that’s a 28% increase of women at these mid-ca­reer pay grades, and a trend that outpaces their male counterparts.”