Coast Guard Annual Personnel Strength, 1947-2012


Click to enlarge or see the pdf directly.

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.


US Coast Guard Retiree FEMA Reservist Initiative


I’m passing this along at the request of Retired Master Chief of the Coast Guard, Skip Bowen.

 US Coast Guard Retiree FEMA Reservist Initiative

Below you will find the Master Chief’s forwarding note and an extract from the “All Hands Coast Guard” Blog, written by him, that was published earlier this month (with some minor formatting changes).

Fellow CG Retirees, This is just a reminder that this is still an ongoing initiative. Our Retiree population has stepped up to the plate and we have about a hundred strong resumes in the system. However, the need is much greater and I hope that every CG Retiree fully or partially retired from their civilian occupation considers this opportunity. Besides serving your country in an active capacity again the FEMA Reservists are also paid for their time and travel while deployed. Deployments can either be for training or to a disaster. Please read the below and get in contact with FEMA if you have questions.

Yours in service,
Skip Bowen

As the co-chairs of the Commandant of the Coast Guard National Retiree Council, Retired Rear Adm. John Acton and I have been working with FEMA on an exciting opportunity for Coast Guard retirees.

Throughout my Coast Guard career, I took pride in the fact that the organization that I was a part of was a humanitarian service. Rescue and emergency response are the missions that initially attracted me to the Coast Guard and they are largely why I stayed with the Coast Guard for an entire career. Now I am retired and I am still interested in service to my fellow citizens. I believe that most of my fellow retirees are also. With that in mind we have worked with FEMA to create a unique and exciting opportunity for retirees called the U.S. Coast Guard Retiree to FEMA Reservist Initiative. you are semi-retired or fully retired and have a flexible schedule this part time opportunity may be for you.

FEMA Reserves serve as the bulk of the FEMA Response workforce during a disaster. FEMA Reserves are trained and qualified to perform a myriad of tasks during a disaster response. When deployed FEMA Reserves are reimbursed for travel and paid as intermittent FEMA employees. Currently FEMA is experiencing a critical shortage within its Reserve Program. Over 2,700 FEMA Reserve positions are vacant. Reservist positions are managed through FEMA Cadres and the skills needed to serve in most of them are generally equivalent to many Coast Guard ratings and officer specialties. CG retirees may already have experience in disaster response, rescue, first aid, ICS, hazardous material handling, survivor support, recovery ops and many other areas of expertise needed in the aftermath of a disaster.

Within the Coast Guard retiree population I believe that many former Coast Guard men and women will have the time, aptitude for volunteerism, and the skills necessary to become FEMA Reservists. This is an opportunity for retirees to still be of service, but on a flexible, part time basis.

Reaching out to Coast Guard retirees will serve as Phase 1 and “proof of concept” for a larger initiative targeting all military veterans. During Phase 2, FEMA with the help of CG Retire Council co-chairs will reach out to all retirees of the other four Armed Services. Phase 3 will entail a targeted effort toward all military veterans in general and wounded warriors in particular. For the Phase 1 effort, FEMA will work with the co-chairs of the Coast Guard Retiree Council to continue mapping out equivalent CG rating and officer specialties versus FEMA Cadre specialties.

FEMA has modified their website to include a section dedicated to the recruitment of Coast Guard retirees for this exciting program. The section includes CG retiree specific content, information on the application process, forms, and resumes.

To learn more, contact the FEMA Call Center at 855-377-FEMA (3362) or email the Incident Workforce Management Division (

Maybe, it would not hurt to infuse FEMA with a bit more Coast Guard Spirit–Chuck