TRAIN: A ‘how-to’ guide for succeeding at any assessment

Crews perform the way they TRAIN. Lt. Andrea Rice of Afloat Training Group San Diego elaborates on the acronym TRAIN in the context of Coast Guard Cutter Mellon’s recent successful Command Assessment of Readiness and Training experience.

Afloat Training Group San Diego logo.

Written by Lt. Andrea Rice, Afloat Training Group San Diego.

Afloat Training Group San Diego recently was on board Coast Guard Cutter Mellon from Seattle for their Command Assessment of Readiness and Training. CART is an overall assessment of the cutter’s on board training teams and its materiel and administrative readiness for operations and training. ATG San Diego had the opportunity to see how the ship’s crew prepared for the assessment, implemented necessary changes and succeeded with minimal discrepancies. While ATG usually goes on board cutters to assess, train and give recommendations for improvements, this time we learned a few things from Mellon’s crew we’d like to share with the fleet!

Coast Guard Cutter Mellon logoWhether your unit is a large cutter or a small shore-support office, tips for successful assessments can be applicable to all. As you prepare for your next assessment, we hope you find the acronym TRAIN and these lessons learned to be valuable tools to guide you toward success. Coast Guard members must be proficient in their jobs. How do they reach a state of proficiency? Through training and performance. The crew of Mellon took early action for their CART and made a plan to TRAIN.

T: Step one, the ship’s crew worked as a team. They took a look at what was required of them, the time they had and the people and tools necessary to succeed. Part of their teamwork included looking at their weaknesses and developing a plan of action. Working as a team allowed the unit to develop a plan that worked for everyone. With a major transfer season and a lot of new personnel, they recognized that a little help from ATG would be essential.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Mellon from Seattle participate in a drill as part of their most Command Assessment of Readiness and Training Oct. 10, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nathan Lacasse.

Crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Mellon from Seattle participate in a drill as part of their most Command Assessment of Readiness and Training. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nathan Lacasse.

R: Step two, Mellon crewmembers requested assistance through ATG’s Limited Training Team. ATG was able to come on board Mellon weeks before their assessment, see how their administrative checks were progressing, watch their OBTTs and crew in action, and give feedback on ways to improve. Assessors want to see units succeed. Reaching out for assistance and early communication is a great way to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities.

A: Step three, the crew took action on administration. A successful assessment is usually preceded with exceptional planning, organization and honest self-assessments. Keeping accurate records, adhering to required references and organizing your files will help both the unit and assessor identify compliance. When you have a well organized unit it becomes easier to make sure you are following the rules and develop better ways to operate.

I: Step four, Coast Guardsmen aboard Mellon improved processes. Their transfer season resulted in a loss of many experienced shipmates, but with the arrival of new shipmates they gained knowledge in other areas. They used this to their benefit, leveraged the most optimal members for their OBTTs, trained the new personnel and were able to meet the requirements. With better administration they improved their processes for planning and conducting drills, resulting in more efficient exercises and bolstering morale through their successes.

A member of Afloat Training Group San Diego assesses crewmember performance during a drill aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon Oct. 10, 2013. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nathan Lacasse.

A member of Afloat Training Group San Diego assesses crewmember performance during a drill aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nathan Lacasse.

N: Step five, the crew of Mellon networked. The Coast Guardsmen not only used the subject matter experts from ATG to help understand references and checklist items, they also reached out to other cutters, the product line, assist teams and school houses just to name a few. Communicating with your Coast Guard and understanding who is who in specialty knowledge and experience is one of the best resources to learn from others and improve your own deficiencies. Knowing people in the right places can help you create a plan of action for the few items that you know need fixed, such as ordering replacement parts or registering your personnel for schools.

How well you succeed and how proficient you are at your job is only as good as how well you prepare and train for it. So like the cuttermen of Mellon, you are not limited in your steps to success and we can learn from them: work as a team, do not hesitate to request assistance, engage in accurate and early administration, strive to improve your processes, and network with your Coast Guard—TRAIN.

Afloat Training Group San Diego is a subordinate unit of Force Readiness Command in Norfolk, Va., which helps Coast Guard personnel create and improve proficiency at every step in their career, from their first day in the Coast Guard to their last, including accession training, “A” and “C” schools, and the Leadership Development Center including Officer Candidate School and the Chief Warrant Officer and Chief Petty Officer academies. As the core of proficiency in the Coast Guard, Force Readiness Command also develops and maintains instructions for all tactics, techniques, and procedures used in the Coast Guard; supports formal exercises; assesses and analyzes operational performance and readiness; and manages the Coast Guard’s armories and weapons systems. The unit includes over 40 subordinate units and more than 2,800 full-time and dedicated Coast Guard personnel.

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