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Space is limited aboard the USCGC Spencer (WMEC-905), where Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael DiGiorgio, USCG, (above) is shown accessing his bunk storage space. (right) In January 2010, Coast Guard pilots Lts. Steve Pittman, left, and Derrick Hendrickson fly toward Haiti in an HC-144 Ocean Sentry.


lot of things. But are they proficient? It’s incumbent upon the comman- dant, area commanders, or district commanders to see that, with finite resources and many missions, we know what’s most important. Have we provided proper training, equip- ment, and supervision? I want our Coast Guard to be the absolute best in the world. I think we are. But we have lost our edge a little bit because we’ve been trying to do so many things. It’s time to refocus on the most important things and make sure we’re very good at them. We’ve got to set boundaries.


Have you reaffirmed mission priorities, and has that influenced resources going toward specialized forces? Yes. I had Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft head up a study of deployable special- ized forces and how they developed and employed. It looked at how we


had created something called deploy- able operations group (DOG), an organization to work on training stan- dardization across our units. Turns out we broke that, almost like we did Deepwater when we created an or- ganization out of the mainstream of normal acquisitions. With DOG, we created a unit we


didn’t even call Coast Guard. We called it the U.S. Deployable Opera- tions Group. Left on their own, they kept looking for, “What capabilities can we build? What more things can we do?” They weren’t directly respon- sible to any operational commander. A finding of the review was that


we needed to go back into our tra- ditional organization of operational commanders having administrative and operational control of units as- signed to them. So we have narrowed requirements of deployable special- ized forces. We’re writing a concept of operations — which should have been done 10 years ago — on how we em- ploy these units and how they fit into our overall structure. We are documenting how these


things work together. We will be able to tell senior leaders in the admin- istration, “This is how we all work together. If you are not going to fund this, then that’s going to create a gap.”


PHOTOS: ABOVE, PETTY OFFICER LUKE PINNEO, USCG; ABOVE RIGHT, PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS NICK AMEEN, USCG


Any final thoughts to share? First, I had declared 2011 “The Year of the Family” for the Coast Guard. My wife, Linda, and I have traveled for almost the last six years listening to a lot of families. We swore if we ever got in a position to make a difference, we would. We have narrowed our focus to improve child care, housing, and the ombudsman program. ... The mistake I made was declar- ing it the “year” of the family. So I tell everybody there are option years, which we are exercising. The last thing I want to say is how


great our people are. I am constantly amazed at the dedication, ingenu- ity, patriotism, and intellect of young people joining all the armed services nowadays. And though our country has been fighting wars for 10 years, and we face these challenges, we have the highest retention we’ve ever had. The challenge will be living up


to our promises to them as we fight through these tough budgetary times. We owe it to them to do that.


MO


— Contributing Editor Tom Philpott is the author of the “Observation Post” col- umn at www.moaa.org and has produced the weekly syndicated “Military Update” column since 1994. His last article for Military Officer was “Under Pressure,” November 2011.


FE B R UARY 2012 MILITARY OFFICER 57


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