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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Jan. 22, 2024

Coast Guard moves reserve positions to reserve members

By Cmdr. Erin Bennett

The Coast Guard plans to adjust the staffing levels at Port Security Units (PSU) to put more billets where there are people to fill them. Coast Guard leadership will leverage dense population centers and target rich recruiting areas to increase the end strength of the Reserve force. 


Previously the Coast Guard structured PSUs as identical force packages. All eight PSUs had identical personnel allowance lists (PAL) and equipment laydowns. Because of differences in local populations, we have had unequal PAL fill rates and varying levels of capabilities. To continue growing the Reserve Component, we need to break the one-size-fits-all model of PSUs and maximize large population centers. We will build on the FlexPAL and continue to put billets where they can be filled.  

New York City, as a large metropolitan area, can be a part of the solution. We need to put a PSU in the New York City area to tap into the large population with a known desire to serve. Creating a PSU will take some time, though, so phases one and two will get the ball rolling.  

The plan

Phase 1 (near-term): The Coast Guard Reserve is moving long-term empty PSU billets to the recruiting hotbeds of central Florida (PSU 307) and Southern California (PSU 311). Four PSUs (308, 309, 312 and 313) have several billets that we have not been able to fill for a while. These vacant billets will be moved to PSUs in locations with a greater likelihood of being filled. The four PSUs losing their long-term vacant billets will maintain the capability to train their assigned personnel.  

Much like the Flex PAL concept, Phase 1 moves billets closer to where reservists live to support geographic stability and enable reservists to drill within a reasonable commuting distance. The Office of Specialized Capabilities (CG-721) completed the initial billet reprogramming in November. Reserve Personnel Management and Coast Guard Recruiting Command are now working to fill the billets moved to cental Florida and Southern California.  

Phase 2 (mid-term): The Coast Guard will stand up a Shoreside Security Detachment in the New York City area. Despite having the greatest concentration of reservists in the nation, the New York City area has limited assignment and recruiting opportunities. Creating a Shoreside Security Detachment there increases opportunities for existing members and new recruits. The Office of Specialized Capabilities (CG-721) is now working to identify a suitable location. 

Phase 3 (long-term): We will establish a PSU in the New York City area. This will build on the Shoreside Security Detachment and increase the training capacity in this reserve hotbed.

What this means to you

Current members at the four PSUs whose PALs have been reduced will not notice much change since most transferred billets were already vacant. Further, these units will retain a FlexPAL training capacity to accommodate reservists in the area. Members at enhanced PSUs can expect to welcome additional shipmates.   

End vision

We will have all PSUs with their PALs adjusted to a level appropriate for the local population and filled with Coast Guard Reserve Component members. Each of the PSUs will have effective training capacities and readiness standards respective of their new PAL. 

We will have: 

  • Three large PSUs: Central Florida, Southern California and New York City area, and 
  • Five PSUs with PALs adjusted below their historic fill rate for sustainability.  Billets and capabilities may be adjusted over time as populations and recruiting conditions change. 

While the number of billets and amount of equipment will vary between individual units, the total number of PSU billets and aggregate capabilities remain the same.  Smaller PSUs will rely on augmentation from enhanced PSUs for operations that require the full complement of PSU capabilities. This provides opportunities for reservists from around the country to participate in large-scale international joint and combined exercises. 

More information will be posted to the Port Security Unit Program SharePoint site: 


In the News:  

Geographic stability for reservists is here: FlexPAL