The equivalent of Army Drill Instructors or Navy Recruit Division Commanders, the Coast Guard’s Recruit Company Commanders—Company Commanders, for short—are volunteer NCOs (paygrade E5-E7) tasked with the training, education, and discipline of enlistees during a seven-week period at Training Center Cape May in New Jersey, the “boot camp” of the USCG. Working with between sixty and eighty raw recruits, Company Commanders lead physical fitness training, conduct drills, carry out inspections, teach in classroom settings, and exercise discipline as they seek to instill the a sense of pride, a commitment to excellence, and a true esprit de corps in the hearts and minds of soon-to-be Coasties.

Volunteers who have been chosen to serve in this critical role must first graduate from the Company Commander School, which is conveniently co-located at Cape May. Spanning a month-and-a-half, the course covers a broad swath of essential subject material—physical fitness, leadership skills, operating procedures for recruit training, time management, and so on—through classroom lectures, hands-on exercises, and even role playing.

This preparatory course is followed by a thorough qualification process, which includes fulfilling the numerous requirements outlined in the Recruit Company Commander Personnel Qualification Standard and passing an oral qualification board. During the roughly seven months spent in qualifying, Company Commanders must also run three recruit companies—the true litmus test of whether or not they’ll be able to shoulder the stressful load that comes when asked to wear the hats of Coach, Teacher, Taskmaster, Counselor and, most importantly, Commander.

The Company Commander Badge is awarded on a temporary basis to Coast Guard personnel who have completed all requisite training and qualifications and been assigned as Company Commander, but who have not yet completed twelve consecutive months in that assignment. Permanent wear is authorized for those who’ve completed twelve consecutive months assigned as a Company Commander, or who completed an assignment as a Company Commander prior to August, 1996 regardless of the length of that assignment.

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