By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University
The United States Coast Guard, which was founded in 1790, has been involved in every major American conflict since its inception. The Coast Guard continues to evolve in order to remain strategically ready to carry out its changing missions based on the needs of the nation.
A good example is how the Coast Guard successfully transitioned from a branch of the Department of Transportation into the newly created Department of Homeland Security in 2003. That major transition involved critical infrastructure protection and homeland security operations.
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In addition to being the primary federal agency responsible for maritime safety, security, and environmental responsibilities in U.S. ports and waterways, the Coast Guard acts as a first responder. It provides humanitarian operations domestically and abroad when new emergencies and crises occur, whether they are natural or manmade disasters, or even in the current coronavirus pandemic.
Coast Guard Protects EEZ’s 100,000 Square Miles from North of the Arctic Circle to Guam
The Coast Guard protects over 100,000 miles of U.S. coastline and the largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world. The EEZ encompasses 4.5 million square miles, stretching from North of the Arctic Circle to South of the equator, from Puerto Rico to Guam, encompassing nine time zones.
In 2017, the Coast Guard assisted over 11,200 people through humanitarian relief and other essential services in its response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. That same year, the Coast Guard engaged in search and rescue operations that resulted in rescuing and helping more than 16,000 people.
At the core of the Coast Guard’s success in achieving its essential and evolving missions are its people. The Coast Guard consists of about 42,000 men and women, so retention is currently a critical issue. It is so important, in fact, that the Commandant has launched “Campaign to Retain,” an important initiative in light of the challenges COVID-19 presents to the Coast Guard’s ability to recruit and train its members.
A Goal of the Campaign to Retain Is to Maintain the Coast Guard’s Current Workforce
The goal of the Campaign to Retain is to maintain the Coast Guard’s current workforce by extending opportunities and encouraging members who were considering leaving the service this year to remain. Member retention is especially important for those in critical enlisted ratings and in specialties associated with the officer ranks. Some of these critical jobs include aviators, engineers, boatswain mates, machinery technicians, marine inspectors, maritime enforcement specialists, and cooks, and other ratings.
The Campaign to Retain also focuses on encouraging junior officers and enlisted personnel in the Coast Guard Reserve to remain in the service. Members who are planning to separate are encouraged to communicate directly with Coast Guard Assignment Officers to explore the additional career opportunities available through the Campaign to Retain.
The Campaign Is Especially Important Considering the Uncertainty of the Global Economy
The timing of the Campaign to Retain is especially important considering the uncertainty of the global economy in light of COVID-19. Departing the service today looks a lot different than it would have just six months ago. Unemployment rate predictions run as high as 22% due to COVID-19. That is near the all-time unemployment high of 25% during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
As unemployment claims continue to rise, the pandemic leaves a great deal of uncertainty in the civilian job market for the foreseeable future. As a result, even Coast Guard members who have initiated the voluntary retirement or separation process – as well as members who have separated from the service – are encouraged to speak with a recruiter or the Coast Guard’s In-Service Transfer Team to discuss streamlined opportunities to return to the Coast Guard through the Campaign to Retain initiative.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been a member of the Coast Guard Reserve for over two decades and he is an associate professor at American Military University. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Europe, and Central America on the topic of human trafficking, local law enforcement’s response to domestic terrorism, and promoting resiliency from police stress. Most recently, he presented at the 2019 International Human Trafficking Conference in Bogota, Colombia. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.