The Future of the U.S. Coast Guard

I’m not talking so much about the future of the Coast Guard, as in modernization and Deepwater, but more about the future men and women of the organization. Several Guardians have shown up in official blogs and in online journals talking about their Coast Guard experiences and perceptions. They range from recruits currently in bootcamp and cadets attending the Academy to a non-rate stationed on a cutter fresh out of bootcamp to a cadet about to enter his final year at the Academy.

The Training Center Cape May blog writes about events and happenings in Coast Guard bootcamp. Some of the more interesting postings are from the recruit company journals. The entries are written by one of the recruits and give a general feel for the company’s daily routine and experiences.

You can follow a recruit company through bootcamp from start to finish – like Sierra 181 that just graduated last Friday. The journals are an intriguing and fun read; particularly for me since it has been… well… um… we’ll just say “several” years since I went to bootcamp.  It kinda makes want to go and do it all over again (I better watch what I say…). Overall, it is a great way to hear stories from the future Guardians, glean insight into how they think, and see the enthusiasm they have for their future careers.

Just the other day, Coast Guard District Eight’s blog posted a video interview with a brand new member of the Coast Guard family, Seaman Apprentice April Mikaolajczyk.  SA Mikaolajczyk recently reported to Cutter Brant homeported in Corpus Christi, Texas fresh out of bootcamp. She talks about her life on the cutter and how bootcamp did (and did not) prepare her for her first job.

Like the bootcamp journals, cadets at the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) are journaling about their life at the Academy. The CGA journals are personal, individually written posts by cadets about the Academy regimen and their exposure to the various career paths.

These blogs and journals offer an interesting perspective on the Coast Guard, but a more relevant and timely discussion is going on over on the Commandant’s blog with first-class cadet Ryan Cassidy.  Cadet Cassidy is currently on a summer internship in the Commandant’s office and is blogging about what modernization means to future Guardians, “who will be on the front lines, driving the boats, making the busts, doing the inspections.” Cadet Cassidy answers questions and talks about modernization and how it will affect the Coast Guard in the future. His summaries provide good insight into how a future leader thinks and feels about organizational change.

In the course of the various postings, it is encouraging to see the natural progression of development a new recruit or cadet goes through. From focusing on adjusting to the service demands to thinking about their career goals and overall fit in the organization, you can see a pattern of growth. Who knows, but one of them could be the next Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) or Coast Guard Commandant.

So, what does this mean for the Coast Guard? According to the Director of Personnel Management and previous Commanding Officer of Training Center Cape May, Mr. Curtis Odom, “I look at everything as evolution. Every generation has their way of communicating. When I was a Lieutenant, we didn’t talk to Captains let alone Admirals. We’ve changed that and members now have the ability to communicate freely with senior leaders.” He went on to add that now more than ever it is important to listen to everyone’s ideas. “As you get more senior, you learn a lot but it is very difficult to be an expert. You have got to listen.” New media has surely changed the way we communicate… and listen.

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