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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 4, 2024

Coast Guard Commandant challenges workforce to move the service forward

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Senior Writer

The U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan encouraged members to help her improve the service during a Workforce Town Hall on Wednesday.  Here’s the link: (  

“We're all in different places in the team, but each and every one of us contributes to the well-being and organizational success of the Coast Guard,” Fagan said. “It's OUR Coast Guard. It's not mine, it's not somebody else's. There is no they or them. It's us, ours, collectively. And so together we – WE - make the changes. Together we create the opportunity and together we create the culture that we aspire to.” 

Adm. Fagan described her vision of a modern service, with a thriving, efficient, effective workforce.  

According to Fagan, too many talented people with the Coast Guard are stuck trying to create success around inefficient processes. She challenged members to think in new and creative ways.  “Like if somebody comes to you and says, ‘We've always done it this way,’ that is a red flag, right? It may have served Joshua James well, but it doesn't serve us well now. And so do not be burdened or encumbered by a legacy view when that [view is no longer] right.”

"The status quo is the risk position," Fagan said. 

Fagan took questions with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Master Chief Heath Jones, during the hour-long event which was live-streamed from a packed auditorium at Coast Guard Headquarters. The pair answered questions submitted online in advance and from in-person attendees.  

Sexual harassment remained a top concern. Two attendees shared their personal experiences with sexual assault, and concerns about access to resources for both military members and civilians.   

Fagan thanked them and reiterated the steps the service has taken to address sexual assault, by creating a world-class Sexual Assault Prevention, Response and Recovery program available to both military members and civilians. But there’s more to do. “I want an environment where everyone always experiences a workplace that is free from harm,” she said, and noted the Service was engaged in a long-term effort to strengthen service culture. 

“We have the devotion part down,” Fagan said, noting that more than 200 servicemembers are currently supporting the Baltimore bridge collapse. “When the Coast Guard is at its best,” she added, “we work together. We hold each other accountable. We hold each other up.” 

Additional highlights: 

  • On managing workforce shortages and decommissioning of vessels:   Although Jones noted improvements in recruiting, Fagan said she expects workforce shortages to persist and that more ships could be tied up in upcoming assignment years. “I see it as an opportunity to challenge some operating assumptions,” she said, mentioning ways we are working differently to conduct missions and avoid putting members at risk, but she reiterated that the Service, “cannot do the same with less.” 
  • On the impact of budget-related stress on less senior employees:  Jones said he thinks members across every level of the workforce are impacted by the Coast Guard’s budget, as well as federal shutdowns and continuing resolutions. He said he is encouraged by a bill that currently seems to have bipartisan support that would continue to pay all military members in the event of a shutdown. Fagan added that since the 2019 shutdown, the Coast Guard has learned ways to mitigate some of the pay issues, if necessary. 
  • On reducing civilian hiring delays: Fagan agreed that the process was not nimble enough. She said leaders are working to find ways to make it more efficient and advocating for budget increases to hire more human resources staff. But she asked for help in finding efficiencies and different ways to speed the process while generating, “the most robust talent pool we can find.” 
  • What encouragement would MCPOCG offer to E-6 and below: “Don’t ever close the door to any opportunity in your career,” Jones said. He confessed that late in his career he almost missed a great opportunity that way. 

Over 100 members of the workforce submitted questions before the Town Hall, and the Commandant and MCPOCG plan to respond to the remaining questions directly or on their social media platforms in the coming weeks.