“Modernizing the Force” article praises the MRTT:
Coast Guard Reserve transitions to a new operational model while carrying out its mission. This is an exciting time for the Coast Guard Reserve Force. As part of a proposed modernization effort within the Coast Guard, we are seizing the opportunity to update our Reserve support organizational structure. Modernizing our Reserve Force begins with implementing the Reserve Force Readiness System (RFRS), a system that is designed to provide the best support and ensure the maximum readiness of all Reservists. It’s all about placing the right people in the right position to do the right work. It involves placing trained full-time support personnel at the mission execution point of our organization; for the Coast Guard, that is at our sectors, the Deployable Operations Group (DOG), and district offices where our Reservists perform key training and readiness activities. This effort is sometimes referred to as “Integration 2.0” as we make adjustments based on lessons learned since 1995.
To properly staff RFRS, we must re-position many of our full-time support (FTS) billets. Over the past six months we have made significant progress in this effort. In June the commandant approved the RFRS model for the future management of our Reserve Force, and we are currently in the middle of a large-scale effort to re-position the FTS billets that will support RFRS. Additionally, we have proposed to grow our Reserve Force with two new port security units (PSUs) to be requested through the budget process, along with the FTS to support them; and in the future, we are planning to add up to 200 new billets in the field to support our operational commanders. These efforts will ensure that our Reserve Force is properly sized and ready to respond to all threats and all hazards facing our nation.
From an operational standpoint, our Reserve Force is actively engaged in expeditionary and domestic missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Our PSUs have deployed to a number of locations in support of these missions, and other mobilized Reservists are assisting with military outload missions and maritime safety and security deployments. Domestically, many of our Reservists were recently activated to support response-and-recovery efforts due to Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike.
We continue to work closely with the Navy and Marine Corps in many of our maritime mission areas. At our Special Missions Training Center at Camp Lejeune, N. C, we train side by side on our small boats with both Navy and Marine Corps personnel. The Coast Guard has just announced that it will provide an opportunity for Coast Guard personnel to train with and become qualified as Navy SEALs. The Coast Guard has been a maritime service for more than 218 years, and our interaction and joint efforts with the Navy and Marine Corps have never been greater than they are today as we respond to the many maritime threats that face our nation.
During this past year, the Coast Guard continued to deploy Reservists to Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since 2002, the Coast Guard has provided support for numerous roles within the JTF whose mission is to provide for the safe and humane care and custody of detained enemy combatants. Coast Guard assets, including PSUs, marine safety and security teams, and other elements, have supported primarily waterside anti-terrorism and force protection security at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Coast Guard currently has 75 Reserve personnel serving in this capacity, with personnel rotations occurring approximately every six to nine months.
For the Coast Guard, operating in a joint arena often includes working with multiple federal and state agencies in response to natural disasters. Earlier this year, when water levels were rising in several Midwestern states, the Coast Guard deployed 18 Disaster Area Response Teams as part of a response coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each team consisted of three flat-bottom boats and seven Coast Guard crews. These crews of Active and Reserve personnel were part of an effort that included the Army Corps of Engineers, General Services Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, Small Business Association, National Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Energy, and Department of Labor.
Similarly, the Coast Guard Reserve responded to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike by deploying more than 4,000 man-days of support under the Coast Guard’s unique Title 14 authority. What made these deployments different was the employment of the newly developed Mobilization Readiness Tracking Tool (MRTT), a web-based solution for tracking and reporting the mobilization and demobilization process for all Coast Guard members. MRTT was modeled after the Navy-Marine Corps Mobilization Processing System, customized for the Coast Guard. Starting Oct. 1, MRTT was also able to track dwell time.
A highlight for the Coast Guard Reserve in 2008 was the advancement of Reserve education. During October, we finalized the acceptance of 120 new distance-learning courses eligible for Reserve Retirement Points. The Coast Guard is an integral part of the national response framework and routinely interacts with other agencies on a daily basis. To bolster the interagency response capability, the Coast Guard has evaluated and approved distance-learning courses offered through National Defense University, Defense Acquisition University, and FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. These courses meet the spirit of the Reserve Policy Statement and assist members in obtaining the technical skills and leadership necessary to support joint and interagency responses during mobilization. Each year, my staff will promulgate a list of approved courses.
Last but not least is the Tricare Reserve Select (TRS) incorporation into the Selected Reserve benefit package and the development of a new physical screening process. As of the September 2008 TRS enrollment report, the Coast Guard Reserve had 540 total plans in effect (253 are member-only; 287 are family plans) for a total of 1,256 “covered lives.” This benefit in today’s economic environment is vital to ensuring health coverage and helping protect our drilling Reservists from financial crisis. Additionally, the new Periodic Health Assessment is currently being piloted at five Coast Guard clinics. It is an annual physical screening exam that will replace the previous quinquennial (every five years) and triennial (every three years for personnel over age 50) exams. For Reservists, the Reserve Health Readiness Program contract will be used. It is nearly ready for pilot testing with the Coast Guard; full implementation for the Reserve community is slated for January. Further information can be obtained from Coast Guard message ALCOAST 355/08, 251842ZJUL08.
A year in review would not be complete without mention of the operational excellence within our integrated work force. In the mid-1990s, the Coast Guard opted for Reserve augmentation of the Active Duty work force (on-the-job training) as a means to leverage manpower while keeping the Reserve Force current in training and qualifications. This year was highlighted by Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, FIa., earning the ROA Bud Sparks Total Force Award. Sector St. Petersburg’s high level of readiness, efficiency, and effective integration is directly attributed to its totally integrated work force, where both the sector and the Coast Guard benefit. The sector’s ability to achieve superior integration levels, using a combination of innovative and time-tested leadership methods, epitomized the definition of Team Coast Guard. During this period, Sector St. Petersburg realized a 400 percent increase (from Fiscal ifear 2006) in safety and security evolutions, a grade of 100 percent on the Reserve section of the Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic compliance inspection, and fully incorporated inspections and investigations teams, boat crews, and Vessel Boarding and Safety Teams. Sector St. Petersburg personnel have collectively demonstrated the spirit of the Sparks award: measurably improving readiness and emphasizing integration.
The Coast Guard is a total force organization, and our Reserve Component is critical to the service’s ability to meet all the requirements in today’s post-9/11 world. Our Reserve Force is ready for the challenge and lives by our motto Semper Paratus every day.
— May, D. R., The Officer, “Modernizing the Force”, Dec 2008