Sometimes referred to simply as “AUXOP,” the Operational Auxiliarist (AX) Program has been given the nickname “PhD of the Auxiliary” for good reason: Auxiliarists who earn the AX designation have proven they’ve acquired a level of knowledge and a skill set that makes them a highly valuable component of Team Coast Guard. It also advances them from the intermediate membership levels of “Initially Qualified” or “Basically Qualified” to the highest level of “Operational Auxiliarist.” For Coast Guard Auxiliarists who takes their duties seriously, achieving AUXOP qualification should rank very high on their lists of priorities.

The AUXOP program was crafted to ensure that those earning the designation were highly qualified and trained in both core competencies and leadership skills as well as in vital specialties. To earn the privilege to wear the coveted AUXOP badge, Auxiliarists must earn seven credits by completing courses divided into three broad categories: Core, Leadership, and Electives, with the latter comprising a wide breadth of specialties (Navigation, Marine Safety and Environmental Protection, Incident Command System, etc.). While no course substitutions are allowed, the diversity of the offerings and the way credits are allowed to be compiled means it’s possible for AUXOP candidates to focus heavily on a preferred area of expertise.

An area in which Auxiliarists do not have flexibility, however, is in the Core Courses. Worth one credit each, the courses on Weather, Seamanship, and Communications must be taken and passed. The good news here is that AX candidates are under no constraints to finish the courses within a particular amount of time or in any type of order. Another credit must be earned by completing one of five Leadership courses; while Auxiliarists are free to take more than one course from this category, only one credit from it counts toward the seven-point goal.

Where the AUXOP program offers candidates the greatest amount of freedom is in the Electives category. Subjects covered here are fairly specialized: Navigation, Search Coordination and Execution, Maritime Safety and Environmental Protection, Aids-to-Navigation and Chart Updating (C-School), Air Controller (C-School), and the Incident Command System (ICS) 300 & 400.

Each of these courses is worth one AUXOP credit, but the category also includes a half-dozen Coast Guard specialty ICS courses that award one credit for completion of the classwork and another for completing all the requirements of the specialty’s Personal Qualification Standard (PQS). An Auxiliarist could earn one credit for completing the course on Search Coordination and Execution, for example, then augment it with the ICS course and PQS for Situation Unit Leader to earn the three required Elective credits.

As they work to earn their “PhD,” Auxiliarists are awarded a Specialty Training ribbon for each
credit. Successful completion of the AUXOP program is recognized with the awarding of a certificate of achievement signed by the District Commander and the presentation of the AUXOP device for wear above the name tag or name tape on all uniforms for which its wear has been authorized except Dinner Dress uniforms. On these, men wear it immediately above the pocket and women wear it in the same relative position; on Dinner Dress White or Blue jackets, men wear it centered on the right lapel, about three inches below the notch. Women, on the other hand, wear it just off the lapel, but in the same relative position.
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