Coast Guard Pillar – Training

Basic training for the US Coast Guard’s enlisted corps starts at Cape May, NJ.  Cape May is the only training facility for enlisted men and women in the Coast Guard and the fifth largest base of the military branch. breaks the eight-week basic training into six stages: forming, company formation, knowledge and skill acquisition, practice, receipt of orders, and preparing to move to the field.

Forming involves each recruit receiving a haircut, having a medical screening, being issued a uniform, as well as other administrative tasks.  Company formation happens around day 3 at Cape May; the enlisted men and women are assigned to a recruit training company.  This is where the recruits meet their company commander and start the process of becoming a team and learning how to obey orders.

Knowledge and skill acquisition and practice go hand in hand during the training process.  Whether it is physical fitness training, firefighting training, marksmanship practice, or classroom learning, most of the eight weeks of basic training is a combination of learning and practicing what has been taught, preparing the enlistees for their future assignments.  Approximately halfway through the training the enlistee will complete an assignment data card, selecting where they would like to be assigned after basic training.  Once assigned a location, the enlistee makes the move to his or her new base.

The eight weeks of basic training can be very grueling and both men and women enlistees are expected to perform a number of tasks before being able to graduate.  Men are expected to be able to complete 29 push-ups in 60 seconds, women 15; men 38 sit-ups in 60 seconds, women 32; men run 1.5 miles in under 12:51, women under 15:26; men sit and reach 16.50”, women 15.26”; each of them are expected to complete a swim circuit, tread water for 5 minutes and jump off a 5-foot platform and swim 100 meters.  Not everyone can pass these tasks and they are given additional instruction and coaching, but going to basic training prepared both mentally and physically can be beneficial to the recruit.

An alternative to the basic training at Cape May is the US Coast Guard Academy.  Here men and women are trained to become officers in the Coast Guard.  Located in New London, CT, the Academy awards each graduate a bachelor of science degree and a commission as an Ensign in the USCG.  Each cadet must complete the program in four years and receives an excellent academic foundation in a military environment.  Cadets study math, science, nautical science, engineering and liberal arts as well as take part in daily physical fitness routines.

Each summer the cadets participate in a summer training program, similar to basic training for enlistees, but the cadets receive more hands on training. Each summer the cadets expand their knowledge with a new program.  The cadets learn to sail the Eagle, the Coast Guard Academy’s ship; they perform Coast Guard missions aboard ships around the world; participate in an aviation or dive training program; learn law enforcement; basic weapons training; and can take part in internships in engineering, government, or operations.  All of the summer training programs provide the cadets with the skills and training they will need to be young officers upon graduating the Academy.