United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

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United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Seal of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.svg
Active June 23, 1939 – present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Coast Guard
Type Civilian auxiliary
Size 34,000 volunteers
Part of Department of Homeland Security
Motto Semper Paratus
Colors White, Red, Blue
March Semper Paratus
Engagements World War II
Decorations Coast Guard Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation
Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Coast Guard Unit Commendation
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Paul F. Zukunft
Chief Director of Auxiliary Captain F. Thomas Boross, USCG
National Commodore Commodore Mark Simoni
Racing Stripe U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Mark.svg
Flag Flag of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.svg
Flag (1940) Flag of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (1940).svg

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG Aux) is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard (USCG). Congress established the USCG Aux on June 23, 1939, as the United States Coast Guard Reserve. On February 19, 1941, it was re-designated the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary exists to support all USCG missions except roles that require "direct" law enforcement or military engagement. As of 2015, there were approximately 32,000 members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.[1]


The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary rescues a man from Long Island Sound in 1967.

The development of the single-operator motorboat, and later the outboard engine, during the early 20th century increased the number of recreational boaters operating on federal waters. By 1939 there were more than 300,000 personal watercraft in operation.[2] The previous year the Coast Guard had received 14,000 calls for assistance and had responded to 8,600 "in-peril" cases. On June 23, 1939, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation that established the Coast Guard Reserve, the volunteer civilian component of the Coast Guard, to promote boating safety and to facilitate the operations of the Coast Guard.[2] Boat Owners organized into flotillas within Coast Guard districts around the United States. These volunteers conducted safety and security patrols and helped enforce the 1940 Federal Boating and Espionage Acts. In February 1941, congress created the United States Coast Guard Reserve and renamed the volunteer reserve to US Coast Guard Auxiliary.[2]

Beginning in 1942, in response to the growing German U-Boat threat to the United States, the U.S. Navy ordered the acquisition of the "maximum practical number of civilian craft in any way capable of going to sea in good weather for a period of at least 48 hours." A large number of vessels, owned and piloted by Auxiliarists with crews made-up of Coast Guard Reservists, made-up the bulk of the American coastal anti-submarine warfare capability during the early months of World War II. As newly-constructed warships took over the load, the Coast Guard abandoned the concept. None of the two thousand civilian craft, armed with depth charges stowed awkwardly on their decks, ever sank a submarine, though they did rescue several hundred survivors of torpedoed merchant ships.

Early in 1973, budget cuts forced the closing of seven Coast Guard stations on the Great Lakes. At the request of the affected communities, Congress ordered the stations to be re-opened and operated by the Auxiliary. The local division captains took responsibility for manning them and ensuring that Auxiliarists' boats were always available to assist distressed vessels. The Auxiliary later took over seven more stations on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

Two Coast Guard auxiliarists review performance qualification workbooks in Portland, Oregon in 2013.

In 1976 the Coast Guard commissioned a study of the Auxiliary by a private research firm, University Sciences Forum of Washington. After interviewing key personnel in the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary and analyzing questionnaires filled out by about two thousand Auxiliarists, the researchers concluded that that Auxiliary was in good health. "In summary," they wrote, "we consider the Auxiliary the greatest economical resource readily available to the COGARD. It performs in an outstanding manner and its personnel are among the most professional group of volunteers in the nation."

Under legislation passed in 1996, the Auxiliary's role was expanded to allow members to assist in any Coast Guard mission, except direct law enforcement and military operations. As of 2004, the Coast Guard Auxiliary had 35,000 members who collectively provided 2 million man hours of service annually.[3]

On June 19, 2009, the Commandant of the Coast Guard awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation to Auxiliary members for "performance...nothing short of stellar" from the period of June 24, 1999, to June 23, 2009.[4] On the 75th anniversary of the USCG Auxiliary, June 23, 2014, the Commandant awarded another Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon to all Auxiliarists.[5]


The following is a list of the various programs/activities in which Auxiliarists are currently authorized to participate.[6]

A U.S. Coast Guard auxiliarist (right) provides English-to-Spanish translation for a member of the Dominican Republic coast guard during Tradewinds 2013, a U.S.-led multinational military exercise in the Caribbean basin.
  • Academy Admissions Partner Program (AAPP)
  • Auxiliary Food Service (AUXFS)
  • Administrative Support to Units
  • Navigation Systems
  • Bridge Program
  • Civil Air Patrol Support
  • Coast Guard Unit Support
  • Contingency Preparedness
  • Health Care Services Assistance
  • Language Interpreters
  • Licensing of Merchant Mariners
  • Marine Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection
  • Maritime Domain Awareness
  • Multi-Mission Harbor Safety
  • Operational Support
  • Port Safety and Security
  • Public Affairs Support
  • Recreational Boating Safety
    • Vessel Safety Check Program
    • Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program
    • National Safe Boating Week
    • Public Education
    • Legislative Liaison Committee
    • State Liaison Officer Program
  • Recruiting
  • Search and Rescue
  • Vessel Inspections/ Examinations
  • Waterways Management

University Programs[edit]

The badge of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary University Programs unit at the College of William and Mary.

Auxiliary University Programs (AUP) is a USCG Aux-managed Coast Guard officer recruitment initiative established in 2009 to prepare university students for careers in the regular Coast Guard.[7] AUP programs on university campuses are organized as detachments of nearby USCG Aux flotillas. Student volunteers complete a "basic auxiliary programs" training curriculum taught by local auxiliarists and older students, after which they volunteer 60 hours per semester with their local flotilla. As of 2015, AUP flotillas were present at Auburn University, the California Maritime Academy, The Citadel, Madonna University, Cal State Fullerton, the Maine Maritime Academy, Stevens Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, and the College of William and Mary.[8] At the College of William and Mary, approximately one-third of AUP auxiliarists have applied to the U.S. Coast Guard officer candidate school after graduating university, while a portion of the remainder have continued to volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.[7]

Additional Examples[edit]

The Coast Guard Auxiliary Interpreter Corps provides auxiliarists who are fluent in languages other than English for assignments with both the regular Coast Guard, and other branches of the United States military, to support domestic and overseas deployments that require language and translation assistance. In recent years auxiliarists from the Interpreter Corps have deployed in support of the Africa Partnership Station, Tradewinds, and other missions. According to the Coast Guard, there are currently 440 auxiliarists in the Interpreter Corps, representing 48 languages.[9]

The Coast Guard, which has just one regular military band, relies on Auxiliarist musicians for ship christenings, funerals, and change-of-command ceremonies. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band is formed from both Coast Guard Reserve and Coast Guard Auxiliary members.


The Coast Guard Auxiliary is situated in the Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-BSX), Auxiliary Division (CG-BSX-1), with the office of the Deputy Commandant for Operations (CG-DCO) in Coast Guard Headquarters. CG-DCO oversees the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship (CG-5) who in turn oversees the Director of Prevention Policy (CG-54), who in turn oversees CG-542.[10]

The Auxiliary has units in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Under the direct authority of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security via the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Auxiliary's internally operating levels are broken down into four organizational levels: Flotilla, Division, District and National.[11]

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is divided into three geographic areas: Pacific, Atlantic West, and Atlantic East. The three areas are subdivided into district and divisions, with the smallest unit of organization being the flotilla (not represented on this map).
  • Flotillas: 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, which normally meet on a monthly basis. Visitors and prospective members are usually welcome to attend.
  • Divisions: At least four (4) flotillas form a Division, which provides leadership and staff assistance to the flotillas.
  • Districts/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 holding the rank of Commander. Auxiliary Districts generally coincide with Coast Guard Districts.[12]
  • Areas: Three Deputy National Commodores are responsible for three geographic areas: Atlantic East, Atlantic West, and Pacific Area, respectively.
  • 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), the 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 Auxiliary is under the Deputy Commandant for Operations (CG-DCO), who reports directly to the Commandant (CCG).

Leadership and staffing[edit]

As a civilian organization, the Auxiliary does not have a military-style chain of command. There are, however, two chains of leadership and management. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the relevant chain when communicating. There is an elected leader chain and an appointed leader chain (known as "parallel staffing"). Commanders and vice commanders (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 other components 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.

National officers[edit]

National officer positions include the following:

  • National Commodore (NACO) – The NACO is the senior and principal officer of the Auxiliary. The NACO represents the Auxiliary and reports to the Commandant through the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard. Additionally, the NACO represents the Auxiliary with all Coast Guard Flag officers and Flag officer equivalent civilians at Coast Guard Headquarters on Auxiliary matters.[6]
  • Vice National Commodore (VNACO) - The VNACO is the Chief Operating Officer of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and reports to the National Commodore (NACO). Additionally, the VNACO represents the Auxiliary at the direction of the NACO with all Coast Guard Flag officers and Flag officer equivalent civilians at Coast Guard Headquarters on Auxiliary matters.[6]
  • Deputy National Commodore (DNACO) - The Auxiliary has four Deputy National Commodores (DNACO) who report to the Vice National Commodore. Three are elected (Mission Support, Operations, and Recreational Boating Safety), and one is appointed (Information Technology and Planning). Each DNACO has a specific set of operational areas of responsibility to include one or more of the appointed Assistant National Commodores (staff officers). Additionally, each of the three elected DNACOs are the reporting point for approximately one third of the 16 District Commodores, grouped by geographical area, who are elected every two years to lead their local membership.[13]
  • Assistant National Commodore (ANACO) - Seven Assistant National Commodores are appointed to either lead multiple national directorates or perform specialized roles (such as Chief Counsel or Diversity)[14] and are expected to consult and coordinate with appropriate Coast Guard Flag officers and program managers, in coordination with the Chief Director, to determine requirements for Auxiliary resources used within their areas of responsibilities as well as develop and manage Auxiliary programs consistent with Coast Guard needs and objectives.[6]
    • Chief Counsel (ANACO-CC)
    • Diversity (ANACO-DV)
    • FORCECOM (ANACO-FC): Government and Public Affairs (A), Human Resources (H), and Training (T)
    • Information Technology (ANACO-IT): Computer Software and Systems (C) and User Support and Services (U)
    • Planning and Performance (ANACO-PP): Strategic Planning (S) and Performance Measurement (M)
    • Recreational Boating (ANACO-RB): Public Education (E), RBS Outreach (B), and Vessel Examination (V)
    • Response and Prevention (ANACO-RP): Incident Management and Preparedness (Q), International Affairs (I), Prevention (P), and Response (R)
  • Director (DIR) - Directors are responsible for the Auxiliary's national directorates. Within each directorate are a Deputy Director (DIRd) and Division Chiefs (DVC), who in turn supervise Branch Chiefs (BC). Within each branch a Branch Chief may have Branch Assistants (BA) to support branch activities as well.[15]
    • Computer Software and Systems (DIR-C)
    • Government and Public Affairs (DIR-A)
    • Incident Management and Preparedness (DIR-Q)
    • International Affairs (DIR-I)
    • Human Resources (DIR-H)
    • Performance Measurement (DIR-M)
    • Prevention (DIR-P)
    • Public Education (DIR-E)
    • RBS Outreach (DIR-B)
    • Response (DIR-R)
    • Strategic Planning (DIR-S)
    • Training (DIR-T)
    • User Support and Services (DIR-U)
    • Vessel Examination (DIR-V)

District officers[edit]

  • District Director of the Auxiliary (DIRAUX)[16] - An active duty Coast Guard officer who is dedicated full-time to Auxiliary functions in his or her district. The DIRAUX has sole responsibility for enrolling a new member or for disenrolling an existing member. The DIRAUX is also the final authority in all matters related to his or her Auxiliary district.
  • District Commodore (DCO) - The highest elected level within the district, this office supervises all Auxiliary activities within his or her district, and is elected by the Division Commanders within the district.
  • District Chief of Staff (DCOS) (Formerly District Vice Commodore [VCO]) - The district's Chief of Staff and Assistant to the District Commodore. Elected by the Division Commanders in the district.
  • District Captains (DCAPT) (Formerly District Rear Commodore [RCO]) (two or more per district) - Elected by all Division Commanders and usually supervise 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 (i.e., 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 officers[edit]

  • Division Commander (DCDR)- The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a division. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a Division.
  • Division Vice Commander (VCDR) - Division Chief of Staff and assistant to the Division Commander. Elected by the Flotilla Commanders in a division.
  • Division Staff Officers (SO) - Manage the division's departments and programs; appointed by the DCDR.

Flotilla officers[edit]

Titles and duties of flotilla officers are dictated by the Auxiliary Manual.[17]

  • Flotilla Commander (FC) - The highest elected Auxiliary leader within a flotilla. He/she is elected by the members of a flotilla. Recommends new members for enrollment to the DIRAUX.
  • Flotilla Vice 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.

Staff officers[edit]

To carry out the Auxiliary program, DCDRs 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:

  • Aviation (AV) (district level only)
  • Communications (CM)
  • Communication Services (CS)
  • Diversity (DV)
  • Finance (FN)
  • Flight Safety Officer (DFSO) (district level only)
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Information and Communication Services (IS)
  • Legal/Parliamentarian (LP) (district level only)
  • Recreational Boating Safety Visitation Program (PV)
  • Marine Safety and Environmental Protection (MS)
  • Marketing and Public Affairs (PA)
  • Materials (MA)
  • Member Training (MT)
  • Navigation Systems (NS)
  • Operations (OP)
  • Public Education (PE)
  • Publications (PB)
  • Secretary/Records (SR)
  • Vessel Examination (VE)

Uniforms and insignia[edit]


Auxiliarists are expected to wear a uniform intended for the situation and mission.[18] Each auxiliary uniform is identical to a Coast Guard officer's military uniform, with the exception that the buttons and stripes on dress jackets and shoulder boards are silver in color, rather than gold. On dress uniforms, appointed staff officers wear insignia with a red "A" and elected officers wear insignia with a blue "A", while black "A"s are worn on insignia by both elected and appointed officers on the ODU uniform. Auxiliarists are expected to adhere to the same rules of correct uniform wear as regular and reserve Coast Guard officers.

When augmenting Coast Guard personnel, the military-style insignia of Auxiliary position is generally removed and the organizational insignia is worn.

Auxiliary insignia, titles, and military etiquette[edit]

USCG Auxiliary Insignia

Auxiliarists are civilian volunteers who do not have military rank, but they do wear U.S. military style officer insignia that signify their office (e.g., a Flotilla Commander wears insignia similar to a USCG lieutenant, but is not referred to as "Lieutenant").[19] By using distinctive insignia, the Auxiliary identifies and recognizes the increasing responsibility and management capability of elected and appointed leaders and staff officers from lower to higher level. The title most commonly used in official correspondence and reports is "Auxiliarist", and its abbreviation (e.g., Auxiliarist John Smith or AUX J. Smith).[19] Exceptions to this rule are elected or appointed Commodores, who have reached flag positions similar to active and reserve rear admirals and vice admirals and who wear one to three stars depending on their office (e.g., District Commodore, Assistant National Commodore, Deputy National Commodore, or National Commodore); specifically, they may use the term Commodore, and are the only Auxiliarists who use a military style title ("Commodore") before their name,[19] sometimes abbreviated COMO accordingly (e.g., Commodore James A. Smith, National Commodore; or COMO Jim Smith, (NACO)).[20]

Auxiliarists do not normally render military courtesies (such as saluting) to another Auxiliarist, but an Auxiliarist in uniform is expected to initiate salutes to the U.S. national ensign and friendly foreign flags as well as military officers who are senior to the Auxiliarist's office. Auxiliarists are expected to return all salutes given.

Medals, awards, and citations[edit]

Auxiliarists may be awarded medals and decorations of the Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary,[21] and may wear certain medals and decorations awarded in prior military service.[19] There are currently 36 medals and ribbons for which auxiliarists are eligible.


Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. (right), commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, presents a Coast Guard auxiliarist with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Commendation Medal in 2013. 
An auxiliarist piper in highland dress uniform performing as part of the Coast Guard Pipe Band. The Coast Guard Pipe Band is comprised of U.S. Coast Guard reservists and auxiliarists. 
A Coast Guard Auxiliary safety patrol in Portland, Oregon in 2014. 
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard (left), and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (right), receive a proclamation at New York City Hall declaring June 23, 2014 as Coast Guard Auxiliary Day in New York. 
U.S Coast Guard Auxiliary units conducting helo ops on the San Francisco Bay 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robinson, Larry (6 June 2015). "Coast Guard Auxiliary helping to keep St. Lawrence River boaters safe". Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c http://www.history.auxpa.org/
  3. ^ Bonner, Kit (2004). Always Ready: The U.S. Coast Guard. Zenith. p. 25. 
  4. ^ U.S. Coast Guard's ALCOAST 365/09, COMDTNOTE 16790, 19 Jun 2009
  5. ^ Zukunft, Paul F. (24 June 2014). "COAST GUARD UNIT COMMENDATION". USCG Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (CG-BSX) Auxiliary Division (CG-BSX1)--Items of Interest (USCG--Department of Homeland Security). Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual
  7. ^ a b Welch, Andrew (Summer 2009). "New University-level Program". Navigator. 
  8. ^ "Units and Schools". http://college.cgauxnet.us/. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Coast Guard Auxiliary Interpreter Corps (PDF). U.S. Coast Guard. 2011. pp. 1–4. 
  10. ^ "United States Coast Guard Headquarters Organization". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Organization". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  12. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Auxiliary Unit Directory and Finder
  13. ^ "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Deputy National Commodores". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "United States Coast Guard Auxiliary National Staffing" (PDF). United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  15. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: National Directorates (National Site Map page)
  16. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Auxiliary Districts, Areas, and Regions
  17. ^ U.S. Coast Guard: Flotilla Officers Structure
  18. ^ http://www.uscg.mil/directives/cim/16000-16999/CIM_16790_1F.pdf
  19. ^ a b c d Auxiliary Manual.
  20. ^ "USCGAux Insignia of Office: Flotilla, Division, District and National Offices". United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Division. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  21. ^ http://ribbons.cgaux.info/

External links[edit]