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Critical ratings offer opportunities for advancement

Apr. 26, 2014 - 02:12PM   |  
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The Coast Guard wants you to help fill its undermanned ratings, or to stay in those ratings if you’re already there — but don’t expect any extra cash.

The service released the results of its annual critical rate management work group in April. There are some new career opportunities opening in the critical rates of aviation maintenance technician, avionics electrical technician, food service specialist, health services technician and operations specialist, but no money in the budget for incentivizing bonuses, Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Engel, from the com­mandant’s office of workforce forecasting and analysis, told Navy Times.

However, unrated Coast Guardsmen who have completed boot camp can go directly to FS or OS “A” school, rather than spend the traditional four months as a non-rate at their units.

“Those ratings typically don’t have as much voluntary draw,” Engel said, which prompted the work group to incentivize them. However, they had to stop short of retention or enlistment bonuses because of budget constraints.

“Two years ago, the OS was getting a retention bonus,” Engel said. “The need actually did go away, because nobody was getting out, so there was pretty low attrition.”

Cooks, for example, spend more time on sea duty than other members, which can deter some people, Engel said.

Force Readiness Command also is working to increase “A” school spots for both the OS and AMT ratings, according to a recent servicewide message, ALCOAST 162/14.

Some Coast Guardsmen have waited up to three years for job training, Commandant Adm. Bob Papp told Navy Times in January, but those numbers are steadily coming down.

The service has 47 open FS billets and 72 in the OS rating, Engel said, concentrated in the E-5 and E-4 paygrades, respectively.

OS2s and OS3s, as well as FS2s and FS3s, are also listed as “open rates,” with current opportunities for direct accession or integration as rated petty officers, according to the message. HS3s also made the open-rate list.

The service’s 95 percent retention rate has clogged advancements, but measures such as high-year tenure, reinstated last year, are opening opportunities.

In 2014, Engel said, about 400 Coasties are eligible to be involuntarily separated or retired under HYT, mostly in the E-6 and E-7 paygrades. However, those in critical ratings who are selected for HYT are encouraged to apply for a waiver to stay in, according to the message.

For reservists looking to go active, the service has waived its limit on extended active-duty contracts for the OS, FS and HS ratings until the spots are filled.■

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