State of the Coast Guard: ‘We Cannot Do the Same With Less’

State of the Coast Guard: ‘We Cannot Do the Same With Less’
A Coast Guard small boat crew teams with members of the Vanuatu Fishery Department and Vanuatu Marine Police Wing in the South Pacific Ocean on Feb. 24 as part of a collaboration to combat illegal fishing. (Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Charly Tautfest/Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard’s funding will cover only half its maintenance requirements in the coming year, the service’s top officer said in the annual State of the Coast Guard speech – a familiar situation for all who serve and one that will have ripple effects for the ongoing recruiting crisis.


“The quality of our facilities and ships not only impacts mission readiness; it is an important factor potential recruits think about when they consider Coast Guard service,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan said during the March 20 address to lawmakers at the Cannon House office building. “And recruiting is critical to operational readiness.”


[WATCH THE ADDRESS: State of the Coast Guard 2024]


Fagan did suggest the service will be scaling back some operations in the face of the funding and end strength challenges.


“Like the other branches of the armed forces, the Coast Guard is experiencing a personnel shortfall,” she said. “The service cannot maintain the same level of operations with this gap. We cannot do the same with less.”


Despite inadequate funding, the Coast Guard has adapted with modern talent management investments that have helped it continue its global work to partner with nations under the larger Indo-Pacific strategy, interdict narcotics, and save nearly 5,000 lives.


Innovation through the service’s talent management task force has resulted in reforms to training and talent acquisition. Assessments of existing personnel skills are now evaluated before training and have resulted in the service delivering trained petty officers 31% faster to the force. The Scout Talent and Refer (STAR) program also embraces the ability for current servicemembers and retirees to find talent for the service; a referral by a retiree or servicemember can also come with a $1,000 cash incentive.


[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Legislators to fund the Quality of Life of Our Servicemembers]


Such referrals have a higher training completion rate, according to a Coast Guard senior leader. It should come as no surprise that retirees are good at spotting those with the aptitude and character fit for service. Along with attributes that indicate such potential, there is also the added bonus of coaching and mentoring provided by these retirees.


The cash incentive is an innovative way for the Coast Guard to leverage retirees to support the total force … and possibly a model for DoD to consider.


Take Action With MOAA

MOAA is taking a stand in Washington on behalf of our active duty servicemembers and veterans. These issues may impact those you know or who are under your command.

Advocacy in Action 2024 Legislative Action Center

About the Author

Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)
Lt. Col. Mark Belinsky, USA (Ret)

Belinsky retired in 2019 after serving 22 years, with overseas tours to Afghanistan, Iraq, the Republic of Korea, and Germany. He joined the MOAA team in 2019 as Director, Currently Serving and Retired Affairs.