Perception of the Coast Guard among other forces

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by navy2016, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. navy2016

    navy2016 Member

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    How is the US Coast Guard viewed upon by other branches of the military?
    What are some major differences between the Navy and the Coast Guard?
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    If that matters at all to you, you are in the wrong place. Perhaps Harvard or Yale or Princeton would suit you better, as you seem to place some kind of "importance' on what others think about your place of education.

    Let me Google that for you.

    :cool:
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Just for what its worth.

    I have worked with members of ALL services at one time or another. The only thing that I have ever cared about, and this had absolutely nothing to do with their service, was whether or not they were the professional I expected them to be.

    A "Coastie" to me is a professional that has a dual role I don't: they have to do their unique role AND balance that with their military role, should they be called upon to do that. When I've worked with them, they've impressed me.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  4. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    That's a legitimate question- not sure there's a good answer. The USCG is a lot smaller, and they don't have large Coast Guard "bases" and so you don't find huge Coast Guard communities ala Norfolk, Ft Bragg, etc... and even their biggest cutters are small by comparison to the other services units, and finally-their missions don't cross all that often. As a result- I think that reality is that the other services professionally don't run into the Coast Guard very often, so IMO there is really no answer as to how the other services "view" the Coast Guard. To the extent that they do, I suspect that the Coast Guard is basically seen as another service, just with rather different missions than a DoD service. Some of their missions are pretty hard to relate to for the other services- Marine Inspection or Aids to Navigation for example really have no counterparts in the DoD-(maybe the civilian portion of the Army Corps of Engineers would be the closest civil function performed by the DoD but most military guys don't understand that either). I think they are seen as professional in what they do- but I'm not sure how many folks know what they do.

    I think that in peacetime, there were a lot of guys who rather envied the USCG because their missions were mostly real time & real life, not training up for contingencies that mostly never occured because we weren't at war. (That's clearly not the case now.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  5. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    What a pleasant response. Very mature of you, especially as an AAP.

    To the OP: the second part of your question you can answer for yourself. Take up for yourself and research it.

    As to the perception...in all honesty, many folks in the other branches don't consider the Coast Guard to be military. And it's for the exact reason that Bruno said: a lack of exposure. Having only rarely, if ever, encountered the USCG face-to-face in routine operations, many folks think of them as a federal law enforcement/maritime rescue agency. That's only half of their identity (maybe a little more than half, but not the whole picture). They definitely exist under the radar of most DoD folks, but that is a testament to their professionalism. Their role is vital and their officers are no less respectable than any other officers in any branch. The question is what you want to do.

    Their pilots are excellent maritime aviators (I hesitate to say "naval aviators") and will fly into almost anything if there's a reason.
     
  6. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I'm sure you don't want to start a "he said this as a West Point Field Force Rep" vs "he said this as CGA AAP" contest, do you? :rolleyes:

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." I'm sure there are many here who think they understand the meaning of that passage, but ignore it anyway.

    Or they are too arrogant to look in the mirror.

    Either way, I couldn't care less what you think.

    Follow the forum rules and stop commenting on what I post. Stick to your own posts.

    :rolleyes:
     
  7. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    You can sell the merits of the USCGA any way you choose, but in my limited experience as a FFR, I've found that telling potentially interested candidates that they're screwed up for asking an honest question doesn't lead to a lot of positive outcomes.

    I'm sure the OP would be interested in your take on his question, based on your personal and career experiences (besides what you've already offered).
     
  8. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    All right folks knock it off.

    To begin with the OP did not ask about the USCGA - he asked about what the other services perceptions are of the USCG as a military service and how it differs from the Navy. That's a pair of legitimate questions asked respectfully enough and I don't believe that the Original poster deserved to be jumped on for it. If you have a perspective that answers his question respectfully- feel free to respond. Saying that he doesn't have the right to ask this is not a valid perspective.
    There won't be any more stones thrown in this thread.
     
  9. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    My take on the question was exactly as I answered. If a potential candidate is making a decision whether or not enter the US Coast Guard or USCGA, based on what the other branches of the military think about the CG, then he is probably not the candidate they are looking for. Any serving cadet or midshipman who, while training or serving, is also thinking "I wonder what the Army thinks of what I'm doing" is putting himself before his service, and more than likely, has a confidence issue.

    And as for the differences between the Navy and the Coast Guard, again I recommend a Google search, as you do.
     
  10. adoloris

    adoloris Member

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    Ok, Navy 2016--I could be wrong but something about your post tweaked my parents radar. I think you need to ask yourself what do you really want to do? I can give you some anecdote's--DS was privileged to attend usna's summer seminar and the uscga's aim program. Loved them both--and yet he is very happy at usma pursuing a degree in a field he is interested in. He loves (well, mostly) what he is doing and where he is.:biggrin: Do not pursue any college or career in which you are not interested--you will only invite misery. Every year, there are a number of new cadets/middies who accept appointments for various reasons except for THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON--that it is what THEY want.(not parents,etc.) Eventually, they process out in one way or another. It would be like marrying somebody just because the reception hall is great.
    ( In DS's opinion and that of his buds, the coast guard is a highly under rated and lately a complicated form of service with the amount of "police" type missions they are filling. I have a soft spot for the CG since my grandfather served for over 24 years and could share some terrific stories with you. )
    Hopes this helps and good luck
     
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    OK, I'll take a bite.

    Please excuse any typos.

    Most of what has been said has been right on the mark.

    First the Coast Guard is very small. With about 40,000 strong, there are less Coasties than Navy officers (which last I saw in a power point was about 51,000).

    As Bruno said there is not large...huge...(even medium size by DOD standard) Coast Guard bases. Often they are co-located on a Navy base, and sometimes an Air Force base. While there are no "Coast Guard communities" (which a few exceptions), the Coast Guard as a whole is a community. If you don't know a person in the Coast Guard...you know someone who does know that person.

    As Scoutpilot said the other services tend to not consider us the military. Most of those people have never worked with the Coast Guard. I have a Navy Cmdr. at my church who is married to a Aussie cmdr. He's worked with the U.S. Coast Guard in the North Arabian Gulf, and said he loved them.

    What you'll generally run into is ignorant comments from soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen, but I would agree that it's only because they don't know what they're talking about. It extends DOD. They have no idea. It's an interesting dance. Coasties know it's going to happen. Maybe it's toughened their skin over 221 years.

    Bruno and Scoutpilot also touch on something that contributes to the confusion, the high number of missions the Coast Guard has. A small boat station feels a whole lot less "military" than a 418' national security cutter.

    There is overlap. Many Navy ships have Coast Guard law enforcement detachments (LEDETS) that lead the boarding teams. Port security is also an overlap.

    The Coast Guard understands itself and likes its people. Coasties understand their enlisted ranks have the highest minimum ASVAB scores, a hard service academy, and a competitive officer candidate school. The history is long and the missions many, but Coasties have never been confused.

    Just don't call them a "puddle pirate", unless you're a Coastie too. I've seen that not end so well in Key West for a random mouthy squid.
     
  12. sprog

    sprog Member

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    There is no shame in being concrned with the "prestige level" of a particular college. It's something that will follow you throughout your life (although to a lesser extent once you've made a name for yourself in a given career), and all competitive people care about it to some degree. I think it's human nature.

    All of our military services are very prestigious institutions, and the SAs especially so.

    From the perspective of someone who was in the Air Force, I had zero involvement with the USCG. My great-grandfather, however, was a member of the Life Saving Service and later the USCG, and he was involved in hundreds of rescues off of Block Island, Rhode Island from about 1900-1936. He used to row out to the wrecks in a tiny boat during fierce storms. He's a hero, and I'm proud to be related to him. Thus, personally, I have always had the utmost respect for their mission and people. While I was on AD, however, I didn't run into a single Coastie. As such, I'd agree with scout and Bruno that there isn't a negative opinion of them, just not much of a thought sent in their direction. That's coming from Army and USAF people. That said, I'm betting most people in the USCG don't sit around thinking about USAF missileers in North Dakota, either.

    So while there probably isn't a lot of thought given about what the other members of the Armed Forces are doing on any given day, the bottom line is that military members respect those in the other services (even if they give them sh$t from time to time). Everybody has a role to play.
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I can honestly say that it was the lack of recognition that attracted me to the Coast Guard. I looked at Navy as well. Something about the Coast Guard operating 24/7 in war and peace and having no national fanfare, I liked the idea of that. Coasties aren't spotlight seekers. A lot of what they do is thankless, in some communities even hated. But they do it anyway. Of course, the "thankless jobs" commercial gives a different, and accurate spin...but I think it's often an internal "thanks" or satisfaction.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isNxi6S4ATE
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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  15. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Indeed it is. Plus, in this country, the vast majority of prestigious institutions have EARNED their prestige. People respect the Harvard and Yale names because of the educations they provide, not because the schools have large endowments or great sports or any other meaningless metric.

    As for prestige in the military, it counts for the same reason. Units and services earn their prestige through the years and safeguard. Ask a member of the Rangers or the 504th (Devils in Baggy Pants) what his unit's prestige means to him. Or ask a Marine about the prestige of his Corps or his regiment. Or ask a submariner who served on a famous boomer like the Ohio or a fast attack boat. Or a pilot who flies for the 509th Bomb Wing. You'll get similar answers from all.

    I think this OP's question was well intended and has some merit when we talk about what prestige means and why we care about it. We just have to be careful about separating perception from prestige. The fact that most of us in the big services are ignorant of USCG missions and history does NOT diminish the prestige of what many great USCG cutters and crew have done over the past two centuries to earn their own prestige. I'm sure LITS can name plenty of famous and desirable Cutters to serve on.

    As for the determination of who is the candidate the USCG is looking for, I tend to think that those who have served and are serving in the USCG are the ones best qualified to make that determination.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  16. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    It's a shame this forum is so judgmental.

    I have classmates who went to CGA because they wanted to be rescue swimmers and were surprised to find out they couldn't do. Others went because it was free, some went because of parental pressure, and I went because I didn't get into USNA. In the end you couldn't tell why anyone went to CGA unless you asked them. All that matters is that at some point in the 4 years that they are there they buy into the system enough to be competent officers and contribute to the service. It's natural to be indecisive about your future so don't hound on the people who aren't 100% committed. It's also natural to want recognition so don't get on people who are a little curious about prestige. In fact, I'm more wary about the people who ask all the "right" questions and give the "right" answers because deep down they are suppressing their true thoughts. In my opinion, if you haven't walked the walk, don't judge.

    In addition, I don't understand the whole "look it up yourself" response. The whole point of a forum is to get responses from real people. If it bothers you that someone is asking a question that could be researched elsewhere then don't answer. In fact, I'm sure that the every possible admissions question has been answered at some point on this forum. The whole point of this board is to get a more personal response to your questions.

    /rant
     
  17. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    BR2011:Excellent points:thumb:
    So Navy2016- hopefully some of this has helped answer your questions- keep em coming! And- good luck as you pursue a possible career in one of the services.
     
  18. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    According to USCGA Admissions, you would be wrong. There is an entire network of AAPs out there, many of whom never served in the USCG, and they seem to be doing a heck of a job according to the Director of Admissions.

    They are looking for more AAPs, perhaps with your extensive knowledge you might want to join them and tell all of them what a horrible job they are doing since in your opinion, they are not qualified.

    Imagine, the Director of Admissions thinks they are qualified, but you don't.
     
  19. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Last warning here folks- this thread has a topic- please provide a response to the OP's questions in a respectful manner or stay off of the thread. No more shots across the bow- further incidents will be dealt with by the moderator team.
     
  20. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Unlike the Army, many Marines I've worked with (and many others I have spoken to) know the story of SM1 Doug Munro and have a deep respect for the Coast Guard, going all the way back to WWII and their combined efforts during the campaigns on Guam and Guadalcanal, and his saving the lives of a detachment of Marines who were facing certain death on the beach.

    Thiese remarks come from the September 27, 2010 Ceremony in Cle Elum, Washington, Honoring Douglas Munro by Doug Sheehan, CDR, USCGR Retired:

    "In 1998, I was in New London, Connecticut for the dedication of the monument honoring the men who served on the APA's during World War II. The APA's were troop transports that were manned by the Coast Guard, and one of them was the Hunter Ligget. My uncle was assigned to that ship, and his picture is engraved on the monument. One of the speakers at the ceremony was Vince Patton, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. He told a story about attending a military dinner in New York in his dinner dress uniform. He sat next to a corporal in the Marine Corps, who thought Vince was a master chief in the Navy. Vince corrected him, and said 'No, I am a master chief in the Coast Guard'. The corporal perked up, and said 'The Coast Guard!!! that is Douglas Munro's service.' He then spent about 5 minutes telling Vince the story of how Douglas Munro saved the lives of 500 Marines at Guadalcanal. Vince said how impressed he was with how well he had told the story, but said: 'I have to ask: how do you know that story so well?' The marine said 'They teach us that story at Marine Corps boot camp. Douglas Munro saved the lives of Marines, so as far as we are concerned, he is one of us. Besides, the Coast Guard used to be the Revenue Marine. And once a Marine, always a Marine!!!!”

    [​IMG]
     

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