Coast Guard conduct ‘about 90%’ vaccination one month before DHS deadline



Coast Guard is “about 90% for total vaccination across the active force” and 92.5% with a first hit as the service focuses on educating members about COVID-19 and the vaccine Before setting a deadline for enforcing mandatory vaccination, Commander Adm Karl Schultz told senators on Tuesday.

Asked about a target date for the service’s vaccination mandate – the Department of Homeland Security has set Nov. 22 as the deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated or request a religious or medical exemption – Schultz said that “what we try to do it right Now we are trying to get people to understand the benefits of the vaccine, the risk of straining from the point of view of preparation, education.

“If you are not vaccinated, you cannot take an advanced training course or program before you are vaccinated,” Schultz said at the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on oceans, fisheries, climate change and manufacturing on Coast Guard oversight. “In terms of the dump and these things – on the active side, somewhere just south of 3,000 unvaccinated people – there is a part of that that is religious accommodations… everyone will go through a chaplain. We haven’t acted on them yet. There are medical exemptions in there. So we’re trying to really understand what those specific numbers are… we haven’t made any decisions about administrative decisions, but we are looking, like other services, to those actions.

The administration has requested $ 13.1 billion for the US Coast Guard for fiscal year 2022. Schultz said this reflects service readiness priorities “as we seek to provide our workforce with the assets. capable, resilient infrastructure and modern systems they need to conduct operations and meet current and future mission requirements.

“To close the Coast Guard readiness gap, we need sustained operations and support budget growth of around three to five percent on an annual basis,” he added.

The Polar Security Cutter program, which built the first new heavy icebreakers in decades, “will allow the United States to project its sovereignty, protect natural marine resources, counter malicious actors and respond to new mission demands. caused by melting ice ”. Schultz also pointed out that the progress of the Offshore Patrol Cutter program to replace medium endurance Cutters is critical as “they are becoming more and more expensive to maintain and require extraordinary efforts on the part of our staff.”

“Despite these Herculean maintenance efforts, this fleet of medium endurance strawberries has lost around 11% of its operational capacity over the past two years, which degrades the performance of the frontline mission,” he said. declared. “I am increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain operations with our legacy MH-65 and MH-60 rotary wing helicopters, as 65 Dolphin parts are increasingly difficult to locate. Therefore, the Coast Guard must immediately switch to a fleet made up entirely of MH-60 Jayhawks. To meet today’s standards for energy efficiency and resilience, we need to modernize our onshore facilities.

Investments in technology are also essential as the Coast Guard faces challenges in the safety and reliability of the marine transportation system. Assets for agile emergency response remain vital as USCG responded to a dozen major hurricanes between 2015 and 2020, as well as other crises including California wildfires, Midwest flooding and the August earthquake in Haiti.

“Our complex operating environment and challenging missions make it essential that we harness the full power of the background, experience and imagination of every member of our Coast Guard workforce. I and the senior leadership of the organization remain fully committed to fostering an environment that provides an inclusive and rewarding journey to all Coast Guardsmen in our quest to be an increasingly representative service of the American public that we are honored. to serve, ”Schultz said. “We need to position ourselves to be an employer of choice in a highly competitive market for talent. “

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jason Vanderhaden told senators he found morale high throughout the service as he traveled the country.

“The current challenge that concerns me most is our ability to recruit and retain the workforce necessary to operate our cutters, boats and planes,” said Vanderhaden. “As we replace our aging assets, new cutters, helicopters and airplanes being built are forcing us to expand our workforce now, so we’re ready to harness and maintain these technologically advanced resources when they arrive. . Even though today we enjoy the highest retention rate of any military service, we will need to retain the future workforce at an even higher rate to meet growing demand, both at home and abroad. abroad.

Vanderhaden noted the retention studies that were commissioned by the Coast Guard and how the resulting recommendations led to several workforce initiatives to make it easier for USCG families while maintaining standards preparation and increasing opportunities for under-represented groups.

“Policy change alone is not enough to retain our best and brightest,” he added. “We developed an action plan to reinforce the importance of inclusive leadership at all levels, in particular, leadership by example and we started at the top, at the top of our enlisted workforce to demonstrate our commitment to good leadership. ” This includes changing the process of advancement to Petty Officer Petty Officer and expanding mentorship opportunities – in fact, he said, the Air Force is currently evaluating the Coast Guard’s new mentorship program for its own. use. “Not often the Air Force copies the Coast Guard, but I think we hit a home run with this one.”

Asked about the USCG’s strategy to tackle illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, Schultz said he “doesn’t position the Coast Guard to be the world’s fishing cops because we don’t the capacity for it “.

“We’re trying to play a leading role in bringing together like-minded thinkers, like-minded nations. We have to partner with NGOs, we have to partner with universities, there are many capacities. We need to understand how we share information and how we shed light on it, ”he said. “If you look at the east and west coasts of the African continent, the east and west coasts of South America, we have seen the 350 Chinese flags and / or characteristic of China. [ships]… We sent a national security cutter there and over the course of three or four days we identified at least two dozen ships where their, you know, AIS, their automated information system was not correlated. with their activities or position. We see the same challenges off African countries. So I think what we can do is elevate that.

Schultz added that fisheries law enforcement is about “collaborating” as the USCG brings “a voice of credibility” to this international cooperation. “And what we want to do is take a nation like China, and we say the responsible flag states don’t send their ships 9,000 miles and have no coasts – the Chinese Coast Guard don’t make sure they’re playing by the rules. “

The commander also explained the USCG’s diversity priorities, noting that the Coast Guard Academy class of 2025 is 40 percent female and 38 percent under-represented minorities. “We have the highest number of women and under-represented among any service academies, but we were heading towards a percentage of 50% that reflects women,” he said. “… In terms of African Americans in service, we are about five and a half, six percent and we need to get closer to the 11 or 12 percent who represent society with a propensity to serve.” “

Vanderhaden said the Coast Guard recruiting mission does a better job of “telling our story” in high schools and community colleges. “The budget for FY 22 looks really good to be able to build our training facility, our training camp in Cape May, so that we can get more people through,” he said. “This is going to be critically important, as well as the training centers. “



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