Adm. Linda Fagan to Navy: Don’t Forget About the Coast Guard

January 23, 2024 9:53 PM - Updated: January 23, 2024 11:52 PM
Adm. Linda Fagan, Commandant of the Coast Guard, speaks to Coast Guard members during an all-hands at Coast Guard Base Galveston, Texas, Nov. 8, 2022. US Coast Guard Photo

The Coast Guard’s top officer has a message for the Navy.

Do not forget about the Coast Guard, commandant Adm. Linda Fagan told an audience at the Surface Navy Association 2024 symposium earlier this month.

“We do provide a very unique capability and capacity,” Fagan said.

The Coast Guard should be part of the conversations the Navy has when looking at its force posture. The Coast Guard might be a Department of Homeland Security entity, but it has a global presence, she said.

For example, USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10), as an example, is in Antarctica supporting Operation Deep Freeze, according to this week’s USNI News Fleet Tracker. USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC-1145), which is part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, was in the Arabian Sea participating in a drug interdiction.

Like the Navy and other military branches, the Coast Guard missed its recruiting numbers, which means it is looking at a restructuring, Fagan said. The service is investing in recruiting, but there’s been a drop off of people entering the service since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

However, investment in recruiters is paying off already, with Fagan saying in early January that there were more people signed up for Coast Guard boot camp than availability capacity, a good problem to have, the commandant said. Fagan wants even more, saying she is challenging the system to bring more people.

The talent that the Coast Guard is getting is exciting, Fagan said. They are smart and motivated.

But while the Coast Guard works to fill the gap left by recruiting shortfalls, it has to realign to make sure it can complete its mission. The Coast Guard cannot sail a major cutter with 70 percent of the personnel needed, Fagan said.

Instead, the service is trying to surge forces. She is also looking at how to speed up decommissioning of legacy cutters so the staffing can be adjusted.

The Coast Guard is also looking at incentives to recruit and retain, Fagan said. One of these is the ability to use Starlink, which allows people deployed to maintain relationships with their families in ways Fagan could not when she first enlisted.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox