The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was established on June 23, 1939 by an act of Congress as the United States Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary on February 19, 1941. It is a civilian auxiliary of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) that works with the rest of the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions. The main exception is that auxiliary members, or Auxiliarists, may only support but not directly participate in the Coast Guard's military and law enforcement missions. Auxiliarists are not allowed to carry any weapons while serving in any Auxiliary capacity. As of November 18, 2007 there were 30,074 active Auxiliarists.
Auxiliarists are civilian volunteers. They are not paid for any service they perform, and they take part in activities at their own discretion. Unlike the active duty and reserve components of the USCG, Auxiliarists are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Auxiliarists usually use their own boats, aircraft and radios (and also serve on Coast Guard assets) in carrying out Coast Guard operation missions, or apply specialized skills such as carpentry, cooking, or professional skills such as medical, legal or computer sciences to assist in Coast Guard missions. When using their own boats, aircraft and radios they first offer their property to the Coast Guard, and upon acceptance, become US Government property while they are performing authorized missions for the Coast Guard.
Because of their association and sponsorship with the Coast Guard, Auxiliarists are allowed to wear the same military uniform
as Coast Guard officers, but with modified silver stripe colors to differentiate them from actual Coast Guard officers. Auxiliarists wear rank insignia similar to the Coast Guard, but shoulder board stripes and sleeve stripes are silver, and the letter "A" is added to both the shield and the collar metal. Appointed staff officers insignia have a red "A", while elected officers wear a blue "A".
Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the same rules of correct uniform wear as regular Coast Guard officers, but are not subject to the weight and grooming restrictions as active duty or reserve Coast Guard members. Due to the similarity in the uniform, members of the public will often not be able to discern the difference between an Auxiliarist and an active or reserve Coast Guard member.
When augmenting Coast Guard personnel, the military-style insignia of Auxiliary position is generally removed and the organizational insignia is worn.
Titles and military etiquette
While Auxiliarists wear military style rank
insignia, they do not use military titles. For example, a Flotilla Commander (FC) wears insignia similar to a USCG Lieutenant, but is never referred to as "Lieutenant." The title most commonly used in official correspondence and reports is "Auxiliarist", abbreviated Aux (e.g. Aux. J. Smith). Exceptions to this rule are Commodores, who wear one to three stars depending on position, and are the only Auxiliarists who use a military style title ("Commodore") before their name.
Auxiliarists do not normally render military courtesies (such as saluting) to another Auxiliarist.
Auxiliarists are expected to return a salute when offered from Armed forces personnel, and it is considered good etiquette to offer a salute to all Armed Forces officers but only when in uniform and covered (i.e. wearing a cap).
The basic requirements to become a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary are
- United States citizenship
- Minimum 17 years of age
- No criminal background (minor misdemeanors like some traffic violations do not disqualify)
- Interest in boating, aviation, radio communications, or any other of the myriad of missions the Coast Guard is charged with prosecuting
- Interest in supporting the aims of the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary
A background fingerprint check and citizenship verification is performed by the Coast Guard of all new members. This is done to conduct a criminal background check and confirm identity before the Coast Guard approves membership.
Individuals who meet the above criteria and are interested in serving their country and the boating public by joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary can contact the nearest flotilla.
Missions and core values
Historically, the primary missions of the Auxiliary have been providing free Vessel Safety Checks, boater education and USCG operations supplement. These three missions, together with Fellowship (the "glue" which held these missions and its members together), are known as the "Four Cornerstones" of the Auxiliary. Through the years, these four cornerstones served the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard well. In the current era, the Auxiliary's four cornerstones have become Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, Recreational Boating Safety & Fellowship.
Auxiliarists can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education. This is the public face of the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary also performs a lot of missions behind the scenes. Overall Members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.
Current programs in which Auxiliary members are authorized to participate include, but are not limited to:
- Administrative support to the Coast Guard
- Aids to Navigation verification (ATON)
- Assistance to local government - e.g.: - Small Boat Course for Local Law Enforcement
- Augmentation of Coast Guard billets
- Bridge administration
- Auxiliary Air (AuxAir) - USCG aircraft support
- Contingency preparedness
- Licensing of merchant mariners
- Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MSEP)
- Operational support to the Coast Guard (OPS): This includes radio watchstanding (RWS).
- Port Safety and Security (PS&S)
- Public Affairs support (PA)
- Recreational Boating Safety (RBS)
- Search and rescue (SAR)
- Vessel inspections
- Waterway management
The Auxiliary shares the Coast Guard's core values and motto. The core values are Honor, Respect, & Devotion to Duty. The motto is "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready).
The Coast Guard supports and encourages Auxiliary activities. Both the Commandant (ADM Thad Allen) and Vice Commandant (VADM Vivien Crea) are very supportive of the Auxiliary. They relied heavily on Auxiliary direct and indirect support during hurricanes Katrina and Rita
Auxiliary policy statement
On September 13, 2006, Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant issued a new Auxiliary Policy Statement which states that "Fittingly, the core strategic purpose of the Auxiliary is to continuously hone its expertise to perform three prioritized functions:
- Promote and improve recreational boating safety;
- Support Coast Guard maritime homeland security efforts; and
- Support the Coast Guard’s operational, administrative, and logistical requirements."
It also states that
- "Every commander, commanding officer, officer-in-charge, and program manager shall work closely with their Auxiliary counterparts to fully leverage the resources, skills, qualifications, and profound dedication that reside within the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Such focused collaboration is essential to our unwavering commitment to mission excellence in serving and protecting the public trust."
Coast Guard organization
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is situated in the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-542), Auxiliary Division (CG-5421) as of 3 October 2007.
Effectively, on the aforementioned date the Coast Guard established the office of the Assistant Commandant for Operations (CG-ACO) in Coast Guard Headquarters. CG-ACO now oversees the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship (CG-5) who in turn oversees the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-54), which in turn oversees CG-542.
The basic organization of the Auxiliary is:
- Flotilla: A Flotilla is the basic building block of the Auxiliary. While a flotilla should have at least 10 members, several flotillas have more than 100 members. Most of the day to day work of the Auxiliary is performed at the Flotilla level. All members join the Auxiliary at the Flotilla level and pay their annual membership dues to their Flotilla. Flotillas normally meet on a monthly basis and visitors and prospective members are usually welcome to attend.
- Division: Several flotillas form a Division, which provides leadership and staff assistance to the flotillas.
- District/Regions: There are several divisions in a District. The District provides leadership and staff assistance to the Divisions. Each Auxiliary district is supervised by a Director of the Auxiliary who is a Coast Guard officer usually holds the rank of Commander. Auxiliary Districts coincide with Coast Guard Districts, except for the:
- District 1
- First Northern Region (1NR)
- First Southern Region (1SR)
- District 5
- Fifth Northern Region (5NR)
- Fifth Southern (5SR)
- District 7
- District 8
- Eighth Coastal Region (8CR)
- Eighth Eastern Region (8ER)
- Eighth Western Region (8WR)
- District 9
- Ninth Eastern Region (9ER)
- Ninth Central Region (9CR)
- Ninth Western Region (9WR)
- District 11
- Eleventh Northern Region (11NR)
- Eleventh Southern Region (11SR)
- District 13
- District 14
- District 17
- National - The Auxiliary has national officers who are responsible, along with the Commandant, for the administration and policy-making for the entire Auxiliary. These officers comprise the National Executive Committee (NEXCOM) that is composed of the Chief Director of Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX - an Active Duty officer), National Commodore (NACO) and the National Vice Commodores (NAVCO).
NEXCOM and the National Staff make up the Auxiliary Headquarters organization. The Chief Director is a senior Coast Guard officer and directs the administration of the Auxiliary on policies established by the Commandant. The overall supervision of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is under the Assistant Commandant for Operations (G-O), who reports directly to the Commandant.
Leadership and staffing
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a civilian organization and there is no chain of command. There are, however, three chains of leadership and management rather than the single rigidly defined Coast Guard chain of command. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the relevant chain when communicating. There is an elected leader chain and an appointed leader chain (a.k.a parallel staffing). Members appointed to the National Staff
(see DC, DVC, BC and BA below) have another chain to report to. The leaders and vice(deputies) of each flotilla, division and district are elected annually. The national leadership is elected once every two years. Other staff officers are appointed based on skills and level of interest. However, the Auxiliary, because of its close work with the regular (i.e. paid component of the) Coast Guard, inherited the meme
of staff officer abbreviations, and these are used extensively in internal documents and reports. All leadership positions in the Auxiliary require membership in a Flotilla of the Auxiliary.
The current national officers were elected on September 1, 2006 to serve a two year term starting on November 1, 2006:
- National Commodore (NACO): Steven M. Budar
- National Vice Commodore (NAVCO): Nicholas Kerigan
- National Area Commodore Atlantic (East) (ARCO(E)): Peter Fernandez
- National Area Commodore Atlantic (West) (ARCO(W)): James Vass
- National Area Commodore Pacific (ARCO(P)): Lois Conrado
The regular National officer positions are:
- Chief Director of the Auxiliary (CHDIRAUX) - A Coast Guard officer holding the rank of Captain. The CHDIRAUX is the representative of the Commandant and also serves as the Program Manager of the Auxiliary.
- National Commodore (NACO) – The highest elected Auxiliary leader. Represents the Auxiliary at the National level and advises the Commandant of the Coast Guard by serving on the Coast Guard Leadership Council.
- National Vice Commodore (NAVCO) - Manages the Coast Guard Auxiliary Association (CGAuxA)
- National Chief of Staff (NACOS) - Appointed by the National Commodore
- National Legislative Liaison Committee (NLLC) - created by the National Coast Guard Auxiliary Board to keep abreast of legislative action as well as to be official representatives of the Coast Guard Auxiliary testifying during state and local legislative hearings, meeting's with Governors' staff, state and federal lawmakers. The NLLC reports directly to the NACO.
- National Directorate Commodores (NADCOM) - Appointed Directorate Commodores responsible for program directorate of Member Services, Operations and Marine Safety, and Recreational Boating Safety.
- Department Chiefs (DC) - Appointed top officers of the Auxiliary's various National Departments: (A) Public Affairs; (B) Boating; E (Education); I (Information Technology); L (Legal Affairs); M (Marine Safety & Environmental Protection); O (Operations); P (Personnel); T (Training); V (Vessel Examination and Recreational Boating Safety Visiting Program). Under the DC's in each department are Division Chiefs (DVC), who in turn appoint Branch Chiefs (BC) and Branch Assistants (BA).
- District Director of the Auxiliary (DIRAUX) - An regular Coast Guard officer whose full time job is to supervise the Auxiliary in the district. The Director is the only person who can enroll a new member or disenroll an existing member. The Director has the final say in all matters related to the Auxiliary in an Auxiliary District.
- District Commodore (DCO) - The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a district or region. Elected by all the Division Captains in the district.
- District Vice Commodores (VCO) - The district's Chief of Staff and Assistant to the District Commodore. Elected by the Division Captains in the district.
- District Rear Commodores (RCO) (two or more per district) - Elected by all Division Captains and usually supervises a group of divisions in a district. They may also have programmatic responsibilities.
- District Directorate Officers (DDO) - Some Districts appoint DDOs based on the three major areas of Auxiliary activity (Prevention, Response, and Logistics). They are appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.
- District Staff Officers (DSO) - Manage the district's departments and programs; appointed by the DCO and approved by DIRAUX.
- Division Captain (DCP)- The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a division. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a Division.
- Division Vice Captain (VCP) - Division Chief of Staff and assistant to the Division Captain. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a Division.
- Division Staff Officers (SO) - Manage the division's departments and programs; appointed by the DCP.
Titles and duties of flotilla officers are dictated by the Auxiliary Manual.
- Flotilla Commander (FC) - The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a flotilla. Elected by the members of a Flotilla. Recommends new members for enrollment to the Director of the Auxiliary.
- Vice Flotilla Commander (VFC) - The flotilla's Chief of Staff and assistant to the Flotilla Commander. Elected by the members of a Flotilla.
- Flotilla Staff Officers (FSO) - Manage the flotilla's departments and programs; appointed by the FC.
Flotilla & Division Staff Officer List
To carry out the Auxiliary program, DCPs and FCs may appoint flotilla and division staff officers. The DCO may appoint district staff officers. A staff officer at the flotilla level is abbreviated FSO; at the division level, SO; and at the District level, DSO. Thus, the SO-CS is the Division Communications Services officer.
The list of staff officers, with their official abbreviations, is:
- Aids to Navigation (AN)
- Aviation (AV) (district level only)
- Communications (CM)
- Communication Services (CS)
- Finance (FN)
- Flight Safety Officer (DFSO) (district level only)
- Information and Communication Services (IS)
- Legal/Parliamentarian (LP) (district level only)
- Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program (RBSVP)
- Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MS)
- Marketing and Public Affairs (PA)
- Materials (MA)
- Member Training (MT)
- Operations (OP)
- Personnel Services (PS)
- Public Education (PE)
- Publications (PB)
- Secretary/Records (SR)
- Vessel Examination (VE)
Auxiliarists are able to achieve a wide array of qualifications in both the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard. Many qualifications come with certificates of completion as well as ribbons and devices.
In addition, Auxiliarists can earn or be awarded a multitude of ribbons and medals, both Auxiliary-specific and Coast Guard, for service. Since Auxiliarists are not paid for their service, these recognitions serves as an important purpose in acknowledging the work that Auxiliarists do.
On May 25, 2006, President Bush presented the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) to the U.S. Coast Guard for meritorious achievement and outstanding performance in action from August 29, 2005 to September 13, 2005, in preparation for, and response and recovery to devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This award applies to all branches of the Coast Guard (Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary) since the response to Katrina was an all hands effort.
Auxiliarists are involved in many missions, all over the globe. The Auxiliary's Department of Public Affairs issues News Releases on many of the accomplishments of the Auxiliary, as well as manages the Internal Communications to the Auxiliary through SITREP, its online E-zine, and Navigator, its quarterly magazine. They also produce magazine articles for reprint in any venue on the AuxGuidanceSkills.info web site.
In addition, many Departments, Districts and lower level units have their own publications. The Department of Public Affairs maintains a web site called PA Update to inform the many Auxiliarists involved in Public Affairs and Publications.
On the Community level, the Department of Public Affairs runs the Fleet Home Town News (FHTN) program for the Coast Guard. The FHTN program dates back to World War II. It is a program designed to increase national awareness of the activities of sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen through written stories and documented images about them and their personal achievements in their hometown news media.
The Auxiliary also run the Coastie program. Coastie is an animated robotic cartoon character. He has navigation and searchlights, a rotating beacon, a siren, an air horn, and eyes and eyelids that move meaningfully. He talks, plays music, and interacts with the instructor and the children during the presentation. He even has a bilge pump that pumps water like a real boat; that always brings smiles and laughter to all when used. Coastie also has his own built in squirt gun that kids love. Coastie is 44 inches long, 30 inches wide, 45 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds -- quite a bit larger than most would imagine. He is painted bright blue and has decals promoting Boating and Water Safety from many boating safety organizations. He flies five colorful flags: the United States Ensign, Coast Guard Operational Flag, Coast Guard Auxiliary Ensign, and the Flag of the State of Ohio, along with a Flag denoting boating safety on one side and water safety on the other. He has his own infrared remote CD player to improve his music selection capability.
The History Division is charged with maintaining historical documents and a chronological history of the Auxiliary since its inception in 1939.
On any average day, Coast Guard Auxiliarists throughout the United States will do the following:
- Complete 62.5 safety patrols
- Complete 6.2 regatta patrols
- Perform 10.2 vessel assists
- Assist 28 people
- Save 1 life
- Save $341,290 in property
- Participate in 100 operational support missions
- Participate in 48.7 administrative support missions
- Complete 13.4 recruiting support missions
- Educate 369 people on boating safety
- Perform 299 vessel safety checks
- Attend 70 public affairs functions
The legal basis for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary comes from Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941, as amended and recodified by Act of August 4, 1949, as 14 U.S.C. 821 through 832
and 891 through 894
and the Code of Federal Regulations
Title 33, Part 5 (33 CFR 5).
Coast Guard web sites
National Auxiliary web sites
Auxiliary District web sites
Non-auxiliary web sites