COAST GUARD PORT SECURITY BADGE

Formally established in 1985, the Coast Guard’s Port Security Units (PSUs) were created in response to the need for specialized security forces at seaports outside the United States being used during military operations. The Coast Guard’s extensive experience in littoral navigation, combined with decades of harbor-security expertise stemming from its officers serving as Captains of the Port at some of the nation’s largest and busiest harbors and seaports, made it perfectly suited to develop, train, and command this new maritime component of America’s military.

Although the Commandant of the Coast Guard approved the establishment of three PSUs in 1985, they were not operationally deployed until the launch of Operation Desert Shield, where they performed extremely well despite limited operational training. One unexpected benefit of this trial by fire was that the Coast Guard, expecting a lengthy deployment, created a PSU Training Detachment at Camp Blanding in Florida to begin training units to replace the PSUs assigned to ports in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The Coast Guard ramped up its PSU program following the Gulf War, transitioning PSUs from notional units with extremely limited amounts of time (two weeks a year) devoted to training and exercises to dedicated drill units with formal and specialized skills-based training regimens. Subsequent PSU deployments took place during OCNUS missions including Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1994, Operation Iraqi Freedom (three PSUs were deployed to the North Arabian Gulf), the Global War on Terror (PSU 305 was deployed to Guantanamo Bay as part of Joint Task Force 160), Operation Enduring Freedom (at ports in Kuwait and Iraq).

As of 2016, the Coast Guard’s eight PSUs are under the operational control of the Commander, USCG Pacific Area, and are considered a component of Navy’s Coastal Riverine Force, or CRF. The CRF handles the maritime security operations during military operation by defending vessels, harbors, anchorages, and shore facilities against enemies and, if needed, carrying out offensive operations.

The requirements for the Port Security Unit Badge varies depending on the candidates time of service. For Coast Guardsmen serving with PSUs after May 1, 1995, these include completion of a PSU Basic Skills course; completion of requisite Personnel Qualification Standards as specified in COMDTINST 4081.8 and 1540.11series; a minimum two-year assignment to a PSU; and an overseas deployment (this can be waived by Area staff). Full qualification guidelines are found in Chapter 6, Section C.3 of the Coast Guard Personnel Manual.
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