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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 29, 2021

Integrating Reserve MEs into Coast Guard police departments, security forces

By Lt. Justin Goodrum, CG-R57

The Coast Guard’s need for increased maritime enforcement specialists (MEs) has become more significant due to policy changes that prevent non-rated Coast Guard members from supporting unit security forces. Not only does this impact a unit’s ability to conduct daily operations, it further reduces capacity in the event of a contingency requiring increased force protection requirements. While the reserve is the natural choice to fill surge contingency requirements, it does not have a training program in place to meet these needs.

Even if a training program existed, gaps in Selected Reserve strength would make filling those requirements difficult. To address this gap in strength, Vice Commandant Adm. Charlie Ray directed the establishment of the Reserve End Strength Regeneration Action Team to restore the SELRES to its authorized strength of 7,000. One way of doing this was increasing training capacity in large geographic centers of mass, including the use of Coast Guard police departments and Coast Guard security forces. As part of RESAT, a pilot program has been established, which will leverage previously unused training capacity at CGPDs and Coast Guard security forces to address gaps in unit capability and SELRES strength.

Coast Guard Yard commanding officer Capt. Vincent Skwarek nominated his installation to be the pilot for integrating reserve MEs with the Yard’s police department to help close unit operational gaps. Using reserve MEs to help fill similar gaps nationwide will assist units in closing day-to-day force protection/safety and security mission gaps at the Yard and other Coast Guard facilities while also creating a surge force to meet domestic or expeditionary contingency requirements.

The pilot program will create critical surge capacity for the CGPD and port security unit programs while presenting a constant visible law enforcement/security presence at the unit. Pilot program stakeholders anticipate the collaborative effort will aide in deterring, detecting, and preventing criminal activity onboard the Coast Guard property or as mission dictates. This initiative will supplement unit security operations and provide additional support during surge operations, such as increased force protection conditions.

This partnership will address the opportunities to provide ME billets of qualified officers for all CGPDs. The study will provide an opportunity to gather supporting data to address any shortfalls throughout the USCG in the integration. The results are eagerly anticipated with a number of other units already seeking to create similar capabilities.


This article is courtesy of Reservist Magazine, the official monthly publication of the Coast Guard Reserve. To read the latest issue and archived content, visit their website. Learn more about opportunities to serve as a reservist here.