Note: This column originally appeared in the August 2020 edition of Reserve Magazine.
Wow. What a world we're living in right now.
Before COVID-19, we never conceived of things like remote Reserve drilling or training via video conference.
We took something that could have been debilitating for the service and found new ways to make things work. Granted, we're still learning how to operate under these conditions, but we're doing it. We know people still have concerns about safety, their families, their work environments, and their careers. We know some of us have lost loved ones, jobs, and an overall sense of security about the world. Saying this is an incredibly difficult time is an understatement, but we're an adaptive organization, and we're always ready.
Even during these trying times, the Reserve remains essential. Recently, an all-Reserve boat crew from Station Cape Disappointment stood the watch when their unit was going through tough times following the loss of a shipmate. They went to work when their unit needed them. Even in a district that was a hot spot, the reservists at Cape Disappointment showed real devotion to duty.
They're not alone. We know so many of you want to get out there and do your jobs, that's just a fact; we know there's people chomping at the bit to get back to normal. Reservists want to work. But safety is always going to be our number one priority.
Slowly and, more importantly, safely, the Coast Guard is beginning the process of returning more people to the workplace to ensure seamless operations. This includes the Reserve. The service's return to the workplace will bring back all aspects of the Coast Guard workforce together.
I'm personally excited to see more folks return to the workplace so I can return all of my focus to my primary duties as the Assistant Commandant for Reserve (CG-R).
Our reserve budget has increased for the first time in many years, and it's planned to continue to increase in the near term to support the accession and training of our authorized strength of 7,000. Our leadership is taking a hard look at organizational priorities, and they're integrating the needs of the Reserve Component into their decisions from the start.
We have also broken the mold for how we manage the personnel allowance list, and we will be rolling out FlexPAL around Sept. 1. What was just a concept in the past was brought to the forefront during the Reserve End Strength Action Team and agreed upon by the Vice Commandant for execution. When fully implemented, it'll be easier to serve closer to home for more reservists than ever before.
Another great change: in April, the billet for the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve was moved to be a permanent part of the MCPOCG's office, further aligning Active and Reserve leadership.
All these accomplishments are products of being at the table with the operational folks. This move to CG-R put us in a better place to showcase the ways the Reserve can support operations. We're speaking the same language now. When we hear the needs from our partners in the Deputy Commandant for Operations community, we can volunteer the right level of support.
The difference is this: we're playing in the arena, not reading the scores the day after. We're playing the game, which makes us much more responsive to opportunities that present themselves. And this is the kind of integration that we need to maximize Reserve effectiveness in accomplishing Coast Guard missions.
I'm excited for what the next year is going to bring. COVID-19 or not, the Reserve has always shined brightest when faced with adversity. Your adaptability is invaluable and very much appreciated. Thank you for your service and your dedication. Together, we remain Semper Paratus.