For the past few months, I have had the honor of serving the various units at Districts 11, 13, 14, and 17, as well as our eight port security units, strategically located throughout the country. It has been great visiting the different units, meeting the fantastic members serving the Pacific Area, and really hearing from our workforce to understand concerns and ways we can make our service better for all our members. My goal is to ensure all our members find value in serving and feel valued by the service. The proficiency and teamwork displayed by our reservists bolsters our service’s reputation as the professional and trusted organization we are.
I have served the Coast Guard for over 22 years, in both the Active and Reserve Components. Prior to this assignment, my knowledge of the PSU mission and capabilities was limited. In order to better understand what exactly PSUs train and mobilize for, I began visiting the units and engaging with leaders who serve or have served at these units. In September, I joined PSU 309 from Port Clinton, Ohio, as they conducted a full unit mobilization and training evolution called Exercise Desired Effect. The entire unit, along with members from three other PSUs, mobilized to a remote location in Missouri to complete weapons qualifications, train in tactical boat operations, and test entry control point security. Members where given various security scenarios, both on the water and ashore, and trained in how to respond and react to the scenarios, as well as work with a tactical operations center setup using unit owned equipment.
What I witnessed was shipmates partnering to build strong unit cohesion and master skills needed for a successful mission. The command leveraged contractors and subject matter experts to build scenarios and provide classroom and hands-on training. Leaders at all levels and from various units worked together, taking the time to teach skills and allow each other to build towards mastery, explaining new procedures and ensuring that every member was ready for the possible scenarios they could be facing. The training involved long days, long nights, and many lessons learned, but it fostered unit camaraderie that will be necessary to ensure success of their future mission. The exercise allowed all members to use strategic leadership to grow in proficiency and teamwork.
As the Reserve, the readiness of our people is paramount; the work done by the PSU of getting back to its expeditionary roots and testing that readiness, can be a game changer. Future PSU deployments will require all members to be masters at the basic expeditionary skills and adaptable to real-world security situations. The training foundations learned during Exercise Desired Effect will foster the future readiness needs. As the PSU employment evolves, our members serving at the units will have the demand to be experts at providing both shore side and waterside security to critical infrastructure and high value assets.
Seeing our units at work reminds me that is our people who make this the world’s greatest Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Reserve is a component of the total workforce dedicated to training, readiness, and mission success. No matter if it’s a planned exercise or a contingency response, the men and women who serve in the Coast Guard Reserve naturally come together to not only accomplish our mission, but to ensure all our members are well trained and are vital to the operation. This is what we do best! The devotion to training and readiness displayed at our PSUs is an example of the hard work and dedication displayed by all members of the Coast Guard, whether serving in the Active or Reserve components, as one of our civilian employees, and our Auxiliary.
Master Chief Petty Officer Shannan Garretson
Pacific Area Reserve Command Master Chief