The Boat Force Operations Insignia was created to recognize Coast Guard personnel with a career path in Boat Force Operations who have achieved high degrees of knowledge, management skills, and expertise in their profession. It is issued in two degrees; the Basic Badge denotes an operator-level mastery of Boat Force operations, while the Advanced Insignia indicates a total comprehension of the knowledge expected of and employed by Boat Force Operations leaders.

On 3 August 2015, the Coast Guard released ALCOAST 318/15, significantly revising the requirements for earning the Boat Force Operations Insignia, which naturally includes serving in a Boat Force Unit. While the promulgation contains a section titled “Definition of Boat Forces Unit,” there is no per se “definition” given; instead, ten classes of units or positions are delineated. Examples include Aids to Navigation Team (ANTs), Port Security Units (PSUs), and Marine Force Protection Units (MFPUs), established in 2007 to provide an extra level of security for the U.S. Navy’s SSBN submarines as they transit within their home-port area.

For Coast Guard personnel serving in Boat Force Units, earning the Basic Boat Force Operations Badge is a two-step process. First, they must be certified as a Boat Crew Member on a standard boat, which among other things requires them meeting the Standard Boat Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS) and passing an Oral Board. Second, they have to complete the Boat Forces Operations PQS, which was revised in July 2015 to comprise more than 50 tasks divided into eight groups; authorization for wear of the Basic Badge requires completion of 46 of those tasks. Earning the Basic Badge does not automatically entail  permanent wear of the insignia; this requires officially documented Command approval.

For the Advanced Boat Force Operations Badge, Coast Guard personnel must complete six additional Advanced Tasks in the PQS, as well as have at minimum of five years of cumulative service on Boat Force units. The compass rose of the Advanced Badge is colored gold to signify these outstanding accomplishments.
The complete list of qualification requirements is found in the series COMDTINST M16114.32, U.S. Coast Guard Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Manual, Volume 1. Note that Coast Guard personnel who have been certified as Officer in Charge Ashore—Multi-Mission or Aids to Navigation are not required to complete the Boat Forces Operations PQS to be authorized to wear this badge.

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