Reservist

ISS1 2016

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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The United States Coast Guard Reserve will enter its 75th year of faithful service in 2016. To kick off our year-long focus on the Reserve Component's contributions to our Service and the Nation the RESERVIST had the opportunity to sit down with the 25th Commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, to get his perspective on a wide range of issues facing the Service, in particular how and where the Reserve workforce fits into his priorities and guiding principles. ReseRvist: Sir, first thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. As you know 2016, specifically February 19th, marks the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Coast Guard Reserve. We'd like to start by asking if you believe the Reserve should continue to be operationally focused and, if so, to what extent and in what mission sets? adM z: Having worked with the Reserve throughout my career, which happens to cover more than half of the component's existence, I'll go back to my time as a port planner writing 9500 Plans (contingency planning). At that time (1980s), we still had Reserve units and their primary job was to mobilize. Ever since the [Berlin] Wall came down in the early 90s, we've had this schizophrenic vision of what we need the Reserve Component to do. Do we want them to mobilize or to augment? But the real push now, as I see it, is to surge, and to surge operationally. It could be for a domestic event, such as Deepwater Horizon or Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy or the like. It could be a man-made disaster. For example, when we look at how we plan to surge at a heightened MARSEC (maritime security) level we have written in assumptions that we can maintain a pace of operations for roughly three weeks. And, because we don't get to call a time-out if we are under a persistent threat, we also need a Reserve Component ready to answer a threat to the homeland as well. I do ascribe to climate change. Not the cause of it. But what I ascribe to is the more frequent, more severe tropical cyclonic activity that is coincident with climate change. As I look back to Katrina, to Sandy, even Deepwater Horizon, we were fortunate that we only had one major catastrophe to deal with. We didn't have one compounded by another or multiple events in different locations. When we have these types of major response efforts what we typically do is rob one corner of the Coast Guard that is not affected to surge to the area that is affected. That is what I need the Reserve (under the Coast Guard's Title 14 authority) to do. I cannot assume that we will only have one event at one time in one location and cover it with the remaining Active Duty force. We will need an operational surge component to be able to respond. When it comes to mobilization response (Title 10), I see that falling primarily within the port security domain. Right now we have Port Security Units (PSU) in Guantanamo (GTMO), but when I look across the world I don't see tranquility breaking out anywhere. So let's say the mission in GTMO goes away, then what? Does the port security mission go away? Absolutely not! There is going to be mission demand for that capability across the globe. Frankly, I believe our biggest challenge will be how we manage this finite resource so that it provides the maximum benefit to our national security objectives. So, in today's environment we mobilize (overseas) with PSUs and we surge (domestically) with the lion's share of our Reserve Component operationally. ReseRvist: That is a very distinctive way to define a surge response as opposed to a mobilization response. Could we get you to drill down a bit further on that point? adM z: I look at mobilization as a Title 10 event and pretty much an away game overseas. Go back to some of our 9500 plans, the REFORGER exercises for the resupply for Germany and the like. I look at mobilization as something in that vein. The recall for a (domestic) disaster, which has been delegated to me by the (DHS) Secretary (under U.S.C. Title 14), some might argue is a mobilization. I view it as a surge for an event here in the homeland. The key part of that is what steps we take to train our reservists to deal with these catastrophes, to work in an ICS (incident command system) environment, for example. If it is a terrorist threat to the homeland, have we adequately trained enough boat crews to be able to meet our operational requirements? So some of the skill sets we need to look at are individuals conversant in ICS and others ready to provide a maritime (boat operations) capability. When I look ashore from the sea buoy it is not just Coast Guard I see (operating there). We have our other DHS (Department of Homeland Security) partners operating there as well as other federal, state, local and other maritime entities. The final piece of work that we (Coast Guard) need to do is to ground truth what the requirements are writ large within the maritime domain. Frankly, we will never have enough Coast Guard forces, Active or Reserve, to do it all. We need to leverage those other partnerships as well. At this point I do not have good fidelity on what those other partners would provide to a threat on the homeland and how that, in turn, affects the Reserve requirements. But we do know that we will need boat forces. Organizationally we need to ensure that those boat crew members, those coxswains, that trained doing steady-state CG operations also have the wherewithal to support a maritime ports, waterway and coastal security operation. So again, when I refer to mobilization, it is [forces] deploying overseas for a period of time while surging here in the homeland. In both cases it may require an involuntary call-up to do so. ReseRvist: Would you say that being assigned and trained locally, within the Boat Forces domain for example, is an effective way to build and retain the surge capability that the CG needs over time? adM z: Absolutely. But we also need to look at how we recruit, how we train, how we retain our Reserve force. If we have a critical mass of reservists that are located in a non-critical port area augmenting coastal SAR (search & rescue) stations which may be nowhere near a port of strategic interest, over time they may advance themselves out of utility within that geographic area. So, as we look at how we retain going into the future, where is it that we need to have our critical mass of reservists located? What disturbs me now is that we have E-7s, E-8s and E-9s travelling at great expense just to be able to drill at the unit they support because they have advanced to a point where there is no unit within a reasonable commuting distance of where they live. That really is troubling for me. So how do we look at recruiting, training and retaining a Reserve Component looking into the 21st Century? ReseRvist: Would it be a fair assessment to say this could lead to a regional force structure built around likely surge or mobilization events and locations? adM z: It would. Again, we need to look where our reservists are home ported today. For example, if we have folks in Hawaii, let's keep them there. As long as they continue to reside and work in those difficult to surge to locations, we should ensure there are billets they can fill. But then I need to look at where we have critical mass elsewhere. Hampton Roads (Virginia) is a great example, as is the (San Francisco) Bay Area, where nearly 7% of our Active Duty Component resides. By looking at where we have a critical mass of Active Duty in those areas -- the Houston- 26 RESERVIST � Issue 1 • 2016

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