SATURDAY MORNING ALL HANDS SESSION
Saturday morning began with an all hands meeting, which kicked off with some opening remarks from National Commodore (NACO) Gene Seibert. “The theme of this year’s N-TRAIN is Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA),” said Seibert, and he noted that this would be a continued area of emphasis for the foreseeable future.
“This national training conference provides us the opportunity to further develop and share plans for the upcoming year, to discuss this new direction and what we need to do to meet the challenges ahead,” said Seibert. “I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity in your various training sessions or just in one-on-one conversation with each other.”
Seibert continued, “Today I want to discuss something I feel is very important, something that binds us together in a common cause and makes us who and what we are.”
“For 65 years, the Auxiliary has done the tasks assigned to it by the Coast Guard. We’ve done them well. We know that and so does the Coast Guard,” he said. NACO Seibert then recanted all of the various types missions Auxiliarists perform throughout the year.
“We’ve been there, done that and done it again and again and we’ll keep doing it, training, patrols, classroom or administrative tasks, humdrum or crashing reality, because that’s what we do. It’s what the Coast Guard expects us to do and more importantly, it’s what we expect us to do,” he said.
“And now, even more will be expected of us,” NACO Seibert said.
“One of those tasks, Marine Domain Awareness, is a lot like the mythical bird, the Phoenix, which never dies but rises up again and again from its ashes, renewed. The Phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space.”
“It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it,” he continued.
NACO Seibert stated, “We are the first line. We are out there, doing what we always do but with an added responsibility to help safeguard lives, property and our Nation from further terrorist threat.”
However, in winding up his remarks, NACO Seibert urged the membership to remain vigilant, and cautioned them to avoid the natural tendency to be complacent and comfortable, and to make our missions routine.
“We have come a long way. We have set our direction, we have charted our course. Now the race is on,” NACO Seibert said, “and with your and our membership’s commitment and continued support, we will, as we have for the past 65 years, contribute to the safety and security of our nation.”
CAPT. BARRY SMITH, Chief Director of Auxiliary
Capt. Smith began his remarks by thanking NACO Seibert for making his job easier. He stated further that “My job is to try to coordinate between the Gold Side at headquarters and in the field, and with the Auxiliary leadership. One of my objectives is to coordinate better than has been done ever before, to try to get us all on the same sheet (focus sheet) of issues.”
Capt. Smith promised that he or members of the Coast Guard Staff for the Auxiliary (OCX) will be attending the District conferences to help work on such issues as SAMA, UTL-T issues, District budget models, fuel issues, PSI, and uniform issues. “We are dedicated to supporting the Auxiliary on the Gold Side.”
Smith continued his remarks by taking a few moments to honor those active duty members who were present, who serve the Auxiliary. There were approximately 30-40 members present, including civilians.
“This represents a crew of perhaps a buoy tender, or 25 percent of the crew of a 378’ cutter. This is the staff of the United States Coast Guard that is dedicated to support the Auxiliary. It isn’t very many to support 30,000 plus members and their needs. We can’t do it without Captain Bob Platt (USCG Ret.) and the other fine Auxiliarists that work in the OCX office on a daily basis.” He concluded by asking the audience to pay tribute to those who serve us in serving the Coast Guard. The audience responded enthusiastically.
REAR ADMIRAL DAVID KUNKEL, USCG, (G-OC)
After Capt. Smith’s remarks, Rear Admiral David Kunkel, Director of Operations Capabilities (G-OC), addressed the assembly. “On behalf of Admiral Collins, I’d like to thank the Auxiliary for a job well done last year.” He further complimented the Auxiliary for their continued emphasis on training, which of course is the focal point of N-TRAIN.
RADM Kunkel said his previous association with the Auxiliary had been positive. He cited his experience with the Auxiliary while serving at USCG Group Astoria. He recalled a special event where the active duty had assembled all their forces around a buoy for an annual fishing tournament, and noted that their forces were not sufficient. “We needed help, and the Auxiliary was there,” he said.
He stated that “the Gold Side leadership, from Admiral Collins on down, we realize and appreciate what the Auxiliary does for the Gold Side in support of Maritime Security.”
“In the aviation community we train and train for the unexpected. This is similar to what you are doing here at N-TRAIN,” said RADM Kunkel. He praised the newly created AUX-15 Auxiliary Liaison Officers course as an excellent example of this dedication.
“Although there is still work to be done, the successful partnering of Auxiliary and active duty aviation resources into one community has been accomplished,” he said. He expressed his thanks to David Elliott DC-Od, Bob Shafer DVC-OA, Franck Saco, Linda Nelson DC-O, and Cecil Christopher, and members of the OCX staff for a job well done.
RADM Kunkel praised these and other Auxiliary training programs that will provide great training opportunities, including such topics as America’s Waterway Watch program coming up in Orlando, to Recreational Boating Safety Program Visitor training and testing available online
“The combination of these and other training topics with other recruiting and retention efforts, leads to overall Auxiliary capability to support a full spectrum of authorized Coast Guard missions,” he said.
“Retaining and recruiting the right people and giving them the right tools to do their job effectively is a force multiplier for the Coast Guard.” said RADM Kunkel.
Rear Admiral Kunkel said that in an age of competing projects, such as deepwater, MDA, etc. “It is a comforting thought that I work with a 32,000 member volunteer organization capable of providing such a wide range of services,” he said.” You make my job of providing the Coast Guard with relevant capabilities that much easier.”
“Remember the next time a training session takes place in your town, you are attending the building blocks that make our service great. Without the 75,000 training hours in 2004 (equating to 8 and a half years of training), the 200,000 plus hours of operational hours would not have occurred, and the over 300 lives saved may have been lost. Training enables us to do our jobs safely and efficiently.”
REAR ADMIRAL JAMES C. VAN SICE, USCG, (G-WT)
Rear Admiral Van Sice began with a discussion and PowerPoint presentation highlighting “the way ahead.”
RADM Van Sice recounted the differences between the Coast Guard and the other services. With pride he stated that in the Coast Guard we are usually asked to do more at every level. “We often ask the impossible. It doesn’t stop. We ask a lot of you, whether you wear silver or gold, and we ask a lot of you whether you’re starting out, or whether you’ve been doing it for awhile.”
“One of the things I’m particularly proud of when I talk to my Department of Defense (DoD) brethren is our Coast Guard Auxiliary,” he said. “When I tell them that we have approximately 32,000 members who volunteer their time without pay and assist us in performing our missions, frankly their jaws drop. They would like to know how we (the Coast Guard) do that. I am proud of that affiliation, and to tell the Auxiliary story inside the Pentagon. And it gets the attention of senior leaders there.”
RADM Van Sice went on to say that “In certain regions, if you were to be rescued by “the Coast Guard,” for instance – on the Ohio River, there is almost no chances of the rescuer’s shoulder boards being gold. Contributions made by Auxiliarists throughout the heartland are phenomenal.”
Furthermore he said, “In any case, I’d like to express my personal thanks for all the Auxiliary does each day in support of active duty training effort. We are in a rapidly changing training environment. It is transformational.”
RADM Van Sice went on to say that the Deep Water program will change the way we train. While he said that that is not fully understood at CG headquarters, he knows that they will have to make some changes. “All ships rise on an incoming tide. That will offer great opportunities for all of us.”
“We are quickly developing a new high tech training culture. New online courseware and new online learning tools will be developed.” He assured the assembly that the Auxiliary will be our partner in these new programs for “the way ahead. “
He commended the Auxiliary for their unselfish contributions to the Coast Guard Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) program. “People who go to AIM – 60 percent turn into completed applications. It is – by far, our best recruiting tool for the Coast Guard Academy and our best tool for finding the Coast Guard officers we need for the future. It is a proven program.”
“I’d like to thank the Auxiliary for their continuous commitment to training,” said RADM Van Sice. He went on to further praise the T department, who provides significant instructional support to the Coast Guard Leadership and Development Center, as well as several Auxiliarists who also participate in LAMS (Leadership and Management) road shows.
RADM Van Sice stated that one of our biggest challenges ahead will be to develop e-learning/e-testing capabilities that support all members of Team Coast Guard. “This is a Commandant mandate, and is an important initative in line with the Commandant’s watch words of readiness, people, and stewardship.” He commended the Training Department’s emphasis on e-learning technologies, and for their extensive support of active duty training programs.
“The way ahead for transforming traditional training to state of the art to new e-learning/e-testing will take time. But we are on our way as an organization, with the Auxiliary as a key component of our development and implement strategy,” he said.
RADM Van Sice suggested we explore an e-learning group that would meet every six months to share success. “Let’s capitalize on our collective brain power and advance this partnership quickly and effectively.”
“Your broad based talent and expertise have enabled us to ratchet up its readiness posture,” continued RADM Van Sice. “Let’s keep finding ways to work together to combine our expertise, passion and spirit. The potential impact is significant.”
“COMO Seibert’s watchwords of ready, responsive, and resolute are most fitting for ‘the way ahead.’ I look forward to continuing my involvement with the Auxiliary as I assume my new role as Superintendent at the Coast Guard Academy. I want to personally thank you for the dedication, pride and patriotism you display with your selfless devotion.” he said.
In conclusion, RADM Van Sice said, “The Coast Guard and the United States of America need the assets and capabilities of the world’s finest and most dedicated volunteer organization. Together we have and will accomplish much.”