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NEWS | Aug. 21, 2013

Combat Coast Guard: The first mission

By Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Coast Guard Reserve's Port Security Unit 305 assigned to Fort Eustis, Va., does not perform the "standard" USCG mission. Rapid deployment capabilities, intense training and self-sufficiency make this unit vital in upholding the USCG's first mission: port, waterways and coastal security.

To create this dual-force, quick-reacting unit, a lot of planning and logistical readiness is required. Instead of relying on other units to meet these requirements, the PSU does it on its own. The PSU maintains itself without outside help by integrating medical, logistical, administrative and combat-ready sub-units.

"We aren't your normal Coast Guard unit," said Master Chief Petty Officer Wayne Miesen, PSU 305 command MCPO. "We have medics, technicians, drivers, gunners - you name it, they work here."

According to the Coast Guard's official website, a PSU can deploy within 96 hours, and set up within 24 to provide waterside protection both in the U.S. and abroad. They are equipped with six gunboats and a cache of weapons load-outs, as well as equipment to sustain 145 personnel for a month.

While the Coast Guard might conjure images of boats zipping past the beach, this is actually a mission on both land and sea, said Miesen.

"Protecting a dock or a port is a job on two fronts," explained Miesen. "While it is possible to have a land force from the Army and a sea-force from the Coast Guard or Navy, it is more advantageous to have a force capable of both that can quickly deploy to anywhere on the planet."

As a self-sufficient unit, the PSU has a multitude of deployment possibilities. The PSU has found itself in high-visibility missions working behind the scenes to provide security before more permanent security is in place.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the unit deployed to Bayonne, N.J., to secure the harbor as a precaution to protect ships providing aid to the area.

Staying constantly prepared for these missions as a reserve unit means a lot of training when the reservists come in on the assigned weekends. Range practice, expeditionary skills training, waterborne exercises and many other administrative, medical and logistical exercises take place simultaneously, giving the reservists time to keep their skills sharp in case of emergency.

With Fort Eustis's central location on the Eastern seaboard and a number of land and water-based training areas, Miesen believes he can always give PSU 305 what they need to succeed.

"Here at Fort Eustis, we have areas for both land and sea training available to us," said Miesen. "I can run multiple trainings at the same time, which means all of my troops have the tools they need when a deployment comes around."

At home or out to sea, on the land or in the water, PSU 305 has the tools and training to secure and protect any American asset under their watch.