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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 27, 2020

First of its kind – new auxiliary unit dedicated to research, development efforts

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

The Coast Guard’s research and development efforts received a helping hand this past August with the stand-up of the first-ever auxiliary unit dedicated to the Research and Development Center (RDC).

The new unit provides personnel and boats for the RDC’s field research. Aside from assets, the new unit also has:

  • A public affairs mission, providing strategic communications support, writing articles for external audiences relating directly to Coast Guard RDC efforts.
  • A new mission to provide subject matter experts to the RDC in support of active R&D projects.

“It’s always good to feel you’re giving back,” said Bruce Buckley, the new RDC auxiliary unit coordinator. While not an official Coast Guard employee, Buckley, with 18 years of auxiliary service under his belt, Buckley was eager to get started on this new path of service and support to the Coast Guard.

“You participate in these tests and can see that the end results will save lives or help the Coast Guard better succeed in its missions,” said Buckley. “It’s really a great feeling and motivates me to put my all into this new unit.”

The unit’s goals include creating a comprehensive database of auxiliary subject matter experts across the country that can be tapped for RDC projects at any time.

“Most auxiliarists have day jobs,” explained Buckley. “Or they’re retired with other commitments. But because they are being asked for their expertise, and are not required to be on site, this unit can really rely on virtual means of communication to work. This allows us to really build out a database of intelligent and educated individuals throughout the country who are ready and able to assist the RDC in its mission.”

Gary Kessler works in the cybersecurity field and joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary about three years ago. An avid boater of Lake Champlain, he was already familiar with the Coast Guard auxiliary and was proud to join its ranks.

Kessler’s 45 years of cyber experience, as well as his formal training in mathematics and computer science, are expected to be a great asset to the RDC. Among his credentials, Kessler recently co-authored a book, “Maritime Cybersecurity: A Guide for Leaders and Managers,” which was published this September.

“I bring to the table my expertise of automatic identification systems [AIS],” said Kessler. He anticipates using this new opportunity to assess and ensure AIS technology’s reliability and integrity.

Kessler exemplifies the type of high-quality individuals that are joining this unit’s ranks each week. More than seven members of this new unit hold doctorates and significant work experience in both the public and private sectors.

“We’ve collected individuals’ resumes throughout the years who we thought would be great fits for the auxiliary,” said Buckley. “From specific networking for this unit, we have about 10 to 12 people ready and willing to join.”

These people will grow a skills bank that maps to the RDC priority areas and directly supports the RDC’s efforts and initiatives. The new unit’s team will help broaden the expertise of the Coast Guard and provide actionable knowledge to support complex research and development projects.


  • Acquisitions Directorate: Coast Guard Auxiliary stands up unit to support Research and Development Center
  • News Release: Coast Guard Research and Development Center & Coast Guard Auxiliary Stand Up Unit to Support Research, Experimentation and Public Affairs
  • Research and Development Program Page
NEW LONDON, Conn. – William Bowen (left), commodore of the Auxiliary’s First District, Southern Region, salutes Rear Adm. Tom Allan (right), who First Coast Guard District commander presides over the stand-up of the new unit, Aug. 26, 2020. Both expressed great excitement at the prospects this first-of-its-kind unit will bring to the Coast Guard’s RDC. (U.S. Coast Guard photo.)