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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Page 34 of 76

The Third mission: domesTic disasTer resPonse Reservists maintained their training locally over the next few decades, assisting the Captain of the Port in security operations, and, in 1972, a new mission was added when Congress authorized the involuntary recall for national disasters. Assisting in these contingency operations remains a central piece of the Reserve mission today. From the Mariel Boat Lift to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Coast Guard reservists began to carve their niche as the Coast Guard's long-term disaster response capability. The arrival of Psus and resurGence of The naTional defense mission As conflict in the Middle East began to heat up in the 1980s, it became clear that the Coast Guard's port security experience could be useful as rapidly deployable elements in the event of a war. In total, eight ports worldwide were identified as places where the U.S. might need war-time port security and harbor defense expertise, but the Middle East took precedence. With added Department of Defense funding, the Coast Guard began work on a new project, the expeditionary port security unit (PSU). This would be the biggest change to the Reserve force since its inception. The 9th Coast Guard District was chosen to host the pilot PSU program in the early 1980s. With its frozen ports, slightly slower winter operations, and a high likelihood that their reservists with a port security mission would be among the first to be called in the event of a general mobilization, the senior Reserve staff began laying the foundation for the training and qualification process. The traditional augmentation programs were enhanced with instruction and on-site training by specialists from Army military police units, Air Force deployment cargo loaders, and flight line security teams. In addition, tactical and combat training was provided by Marine Corps perimeter security specialists and combat trainers. Boat crews were trained in maritime security and interdiction tactics at the Coast Guard's Yorktown, Va., training facility. While port security and harbor defense were high on the list of responsibilities, early PSU models were still held accountable for maintaining their domestic mission response training, like search and rescue, marine safety and environmental protection. Capt. John Olson, commanding officer of one of the first PSUs out of Milwaukee, remembered the caution and adaptability with which the reserve PSU members had to train. "We were still those traditional search and rescue and marine safety guys, but all of a sudden, we were carrying M16s on our shoulders," said Olson, a high school principal in his civilian career. He reminded his reservists to be conscious of how their rigorous training might look to the public, who were used to seeing only one side of their local Coast Guardsmen. "Plus, you had to do all this within the context of 12 days and Coast guard Historian Issue 1 • 2016 � RESERVIST 33

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