December Email Message from RKM/RFMC Select (Check your CG email)!

Culinary Specialists,

Good afternoon from your Rating Knowledge Manager (RKM) and soon-to-be RFMC. I sent an email to the CS Chiefs Mess and another to the CS Petty Officers. Here is most of what I sent:

Attached is a Rednour Awards Guide. Lots of changes this year! If you are an FSO please submit for galley of the year and submit yourself/your people for CS of the year!

Also, attached is a bonus guide. We wanted to research and provide simple and current guidance on CS monetary incentives so all CSs can quickly reference them. With the upcoming FY24 Workforce Planning Team (WPT) and Special Duty Pay (SDP) Panels commencing, we are prepared to request continuances (and increases if possible) to current incentives. It is obvious that everyone is a little confused, therefore a little guidance never hurt. Hopefully, this helps all CSs get paid what is being offered to them and explains some of the monetary interventions available to us to increase retention and recruiting.

We realize these are small wins (bonuses, lists, quick ascensions ect.) and they will not fix the CS crisis we are currently in (Please read A Cook Shortage Threatens To Sink U.S. Coast Guard Operations ( We will discuss some larger impact changes we are looking at to deal with this crisis but first, lets go over the recruiting/retention initiatives that have been passed or that are currently in place for 2023. Please go here for more information on all topics below:  


Recruiting is a high priority because it impacts everyone, especially the cutter fleet. Being short 2 cooks at your unit is unacceptable (3 is impossible but some are still doing it). We have been moving full steam ahead (and seem to be seeing a little forward progress in CS accessions) with:

–              The Lateral Entry Pilot
–              Agile A School
–              SCA Recruiting Mandate   
–              Senior Leaders traveling all over the county recruiting at job fairs/visiting culinary schools
–              SRB for members in the CS rating who transfer from the IRR to Active Duty
–              Increased Enlistment Bonuses (EB) $40,000, $45,000 and $50,000
–              Critical Skills Training Bonuses (CSTB)
–              Open Rate List (ORL)
–              Opening Extended Active Duty (EAD) contracts for reserve
–              CS Guaranteed A-Schools
–              CS while On New Rating School List Bonus  
–              CS led robust social media campaign


I know the response to this is “What about the people who are already in? What are we doing for them?” The most important thing we can do for our people right now is to get them a body (or two) to work with. More people will improve morale, work life, job satisfaction, results, and environment better than any other solution (other than reducing workload but we will get to that later). We do not have a retention crisis (at least that is what the numbers say). We have a recruiting crisis. Also, the main reason people give for getting out right now is being short-staffed.

Retention is our second highest priority though and for the people currently in we have the following in currently in place:

–              **New Special Duty Pay (SDP) for all Food Service officers 
–              **New Banded billets E7 &E8 (Down the road E5 to E6 if beta test works well) 
–              Selective re-enlistment bonuses (SRB)
–              New Suspension of the High Year Tenure (HYT) (CS Incentives Post)
–              CS Symposiums held in E-City, Alaska, Portsmouth, Florida, San Francisco (One is Coming Soon Near You)
–              **New CS Senior Leadership Conference in TRACEN Petaluma (Annual)
–              **New CS-PI and CS-PVA Course
–              **New CS-17 and CS-18 Competencies
–              Annual Culinary Team
–              Advanced Culinary Training at CIA (8 spots a year) or Fort Lee
–              Advanced Education Program (1 Person gets a Culinary Degree each year)
–              **New Rednour Awards (Complete revamp with Junior and Senior Cook of the year) 
–              **New Food Service Support Branch 
–              **New CSA Alameda
–              **New RFMC Select Search Engine 
–              More Supper High End Culinary Opportunities to strive for – Work at the White House, Chairman of Joint Chiefs, DHS Secretaries Dining Room or Commandants Flag Mess (two high-end restaurants), advanced culinary instructor or A School Instructor. You CAN learn to be a chef. We have the Civilian 2022 National ACF Chef of the Year and the 2022 ACF National Pastry Chef of the Year in the Coast Guard.
–              More Supper High Impact Support Positions to strive for – DLA, Product Line, FINCEN, Food Service Support Branch, C School Instructor, and the Culinary Program. You CAN make change. If you want to make change and pave the way to become a future leader of our rating, take one of these high-speed jobs.

Yes, we lost a couple bonuses last year… but that was because the retention numbers are not adding up and the Work Force Planning Team won’t approve the bonus without the data to support it. There is a lot of new items on the list above though. All these new initiatives will provide better support, better training, more mentorship, and increase motivation for CSs to excel through money, competency achievement, more stable worklife, and advancement stepping stones.

Your Senior CS Leadership has been and is still working hard on retention and recruiting but.. that is not enough.

The Future:

A lot of the new initiatives above are part of a larger plan that focuses mainly on improving Sea Duty Attractiveness. We are tired of the smoke and mirror solutions. We are understaffed… moving billets, renaming billets, or swapping billets isn’t the answer. Everyone gets caught up in the “mini” solutions above that really only have a small impact on the CS Crisis (bonuses, lists, quick ascensions etc).  The big picture is we need more people. if we can’t get more people then we need less work. We won’t be getting the people anytime soon so the Question is “How do we lessen our responsibilities/workload?”.  At the program/RFMC level our priority, focus, and time should be pushing forward large-impact, sweeping changes that affect the rating as a whole. We have some ideas in the works (and are looking for your input as well.)

1.            Shut down select small boat station dining facilities and move the cooks to large bases where they can support the Cutters. We need to maximize our CS resources and underutilized Small Boat Station Dining Facilities is (unfortunately) the place we may have to start at.

2.            We may need to start shutting down Dinning Facilities while they are in port. Why do we have 7 different galleys cooking food all in the same location? When the cutters pull in we need to shut down the CGDF and give our cooks a chance to train, clean, prepare, load stores, make menus, do quals, go TDY, and everything else that we would like to do but have no time. Cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner in multiple places on one base makes no sense. Put the crew on BAS. Let the cooks concentrate on doing things right because they will finally have the time to do things right.

More on this to come… these are just ideas so give us your input before we move forward. Also, let us know if you have any other ideas as well.

Couple of quick notes (I’ll discuss this stuff in future emails):

–              A School is amazing and looking to revamp everything to be even more amazing.
–              Still chipping away on a Live Time CS Financial System
–              New FSO Insignias seem dead on arrival
–              New Culinary Operations Manual Progress (We are actively working on it)
–              Working on fixing TDY Support Issues (and the Eagle, Healy, and Star Billeting)
–              Moving forward on GMT E-Learning Portal – 4-Hour Sanitation Training
–              Supplemental list and quick CS2 Advancements Issues  
–              2023 RPQs Rating Review/Operational Analysis  
–              And more. Standby!

Lastly, Portal is going away and the SharePoint transition is near. The search engine is still inadequate so until share point is useful all communication from me will be by Emails like this or updates here on Subscribe for updates here

All the references and necessary guides, TTP, and Policies will still be located on Portal/SharePoint.

We covered a lot but there is way more going on. Please call us anytime and me personally at 860-389-4470.

If you don’t know who I am or we never met. Here is a video I just made reacting to a clip I created 22 years ago about my first four years in the Coast Guard. Working blues lol!

Thank you for what you do each and every day. We are an exceptional rating with the most exceptional people. Your CS Leadership and the CS Chiefs Mess will strive for continuous improvement and meaningful results for this rating. 

CSCM James Swenson

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