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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 27, 2021

Reserve aviation workforce roll-out

By Cmdr. Marc McDonnell, Office of Aviation Forces

The reserve component delivers tremendous value to the Coast Guard and is, without question, key to the Coast Guard's long history of operational success. Yet, Coast Guard aviation, one of our service's largest communities, is not represented in the reserve. With over 4,000 enlisted personnel and over 1,000 officers in aviation, there is a tremendous opportunity for the Coast Guard to develop a new capability in the reserve that directly supports our missions and our people.

To remedy this capability gap, the Office of Aviation Forces and the Coast Guard reserve are working to develop the reserve aviation workforce. With a target start date of Summer 2021, the initiative will start by making 50 billets available to enlisted aviation personnel (E-4 to E-6) who are separating from active duty. The motivation for developing this workforce is simple: enable our aviation personnel to continue their chosen career path in the reserve, retain aviation technical expertise, and develop an aviation surge and mobilization capability.

Capability and Integration

The new reserve aviation workforce will focus on providing ground-based aviation maintenance and support equipment maintenance. The reservists will drill under traditional SELRES drilling requirements and be available for mobilization. Flight status designation will remain under the authority of the local air station’s commanding officer, but this is envisioned only as long-term support mechanism. Historically, aviation mobilization has been 100% supported by our active-duty members and multi-day surge operations required duty-grid shuffles to both support the surge op and sustain the unit’s search and rescue readiness requirements. In the future, aviation reservists will help meet the surge mobilization request by either responding directly or backfilling home units. The key to the successful implementation of the workforce is already part of the Coast Guard’s DNA with aviation’s commitment to standardization and the reserve’s philosophy of integration. In aviation, integrating mixed crews from multiple air 
stations is already normal ops for surge events; mobilizing reservists to integrate with active duty maintenance teams will become a welcomed and standard practice.

Delivering Value and Next Steps

This will be a culture shift for our hangar decks and wardrooms. To aid in the workforce’s rollout, Aviation Forces and the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support will schedule training events to ensure our new reserve personnel and air stations are well prepared. We believe that the workforce will retain valuable aviation expertise, deliver on our duty to people commitment, and increase the flexibility of aviation to overcome future challenges.

Author's note: The Office of Aviation Forces is also working to establish reserve aviator (pilot) billets in FY22. These aviator positions will require SELRES drilling requirements of 60 to 72 days. Locations for these billets have not been finalized, but they will support flight training at Naval Flight School and operational missions at Coast Guard air stations.

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.