Is there a RIF in our future?
For those not familiar with the term a RIF is a reduction in force. In the early 90s the Coast Guard had a RIF and used High Year Tenure to rapidly reduce the force.
The budget is on the minds of most everyone. The Department of Defense took a heavy hit, especially the Army and Marine Corps. The Department of Homeland Security budget is being impacted as well.
So does this mean the Coast Guard will implement a RIF to reduce the force? There is no crystal ball or magic 8 ball that can answer that question, but signs point to no.
Yes the budget has been impacted. It is no secret that Coast Guard is working on reducing the size of the force. The Career Retention Screening Panel was implemented, not as a force-shaping tool but it can help people move out of the service. Unlike the programs other services use it is only looking at retirement eligible members. Pairing up removing people from the top with properly managing recruiting numbers is one way to help reduce the size of the service.
The Navy has been using force-shaping tools since 2003. In 2003 they unveiled the Perform to Serve program which is an application process for sailors to re-enlist. In 2011 the Navy started doing Enlisted Retention Boards (ERB), which is being used to reduce overmanned ratings. The process examines the performance of Sailors in overmanned ratings. Finally the Navy has the Continuation Board, which began in 2009. This is a performance-based review of E-7-E-9s who are retirement eligible.
The recent budget cuts has prompted the Army to adopt a program to reduce the size of their force. With the need to maintain people in garrison and abroad diminished soldiers there is no longer a need to maintain such a robust Army. The Army created the Qualitative Service Program. It was recently published they are looking to reduce the Non-Commissioned Officers, E-6-E-9 by about 4,000. Their program is similar to the Coast Guard program, looking at the performance of retirement eligible Soldiers. But the Army has incorporated some of the methods of the Navy ERB, where they will target Military Occupational Specialties that are overmanned
In the event the Coast Guard executes a RIF the programs used by the Navy and Army could become the model for a Coast Guard program.
There is a lot of speculation about what will happen with the Coast Guard. How will the budget impact the future of the service? Like everyone else, we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out. In the mean time either invest in a magic eight ball or educate yourself on how other services do business so you will be prepared.