History of Operations Specialist
The Operation Specialist (OS) rating was formed on the first of July, 2003, by order of the Commandant. The OS rating stood up as a rating that would set the ground work for the future Coast Guard. Prior to that time, the Coast Guard had two separate ratings that possessed the main skillsets that formed the OS rating. They were the Telecommunications Specialist (TC) and Radarman (RD). A few personnel from other ratings, such as Quartermaster (QM) and Boatswain’s mate (BM), were also chosen to join the newly formed rating.
Operations Specialist "A" School was fashioned in Petaluma, California, in 2003, by integrating the existing TC and RD ratings instruction under a unified OS banner. Combining these two diverse "A" School curricula was a significant challenge that was achieved through the hard work of experts from each of the legacy ratings. TC "A" School had been taught at Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, California, since 1971 (at that time they were the Radioman (RM) rating). RD "A" School had been housed in Yorktown, Virginia, since 1988, and moved in 2003 to Petaluma, California, along with the equipment and instructors needed to stand-up the combined OS rating "A" School.
While diverse in many ways, the TC and RD ratings have always been the eyes, ears, and voice of the United States Coast Guard. Now as the OS rating, we hold true to our roots, performing functions ranging from vessel traffic control, to search and rescue, to law enforcement case execution, to intelligence operations.
Two seemingly different ratings form what is now one of the largest and fastest growing ratings in the Armed Services. With new and exciting advances in technology happening every day, the OS rating will continue to be on the cutting edge of things to come—while remembering the rich histories of those that have led the way for us.
The Operations Specialist is the tactical command, control and communications rating. They perform functions that are the eyes, ears, and voice of the United States Coast Guard, ranging from Search and Rescue operations, vessel traffic control, incident response and management, law enforcement case execution, and tactical command and control
To perform these vital operations, the OS underway operates some of the most advanced tactical computer systems available in the Coast Guard which incorporates, satellite communications, global position navigation, electronic charting systems, real-time target acquisition, tracking and identification utilizing a vast array of systems. While an OS ashore handles and coordinates operational case management functions, using state of the art system tools such as Rescue 21, SAROPS, MISLE and online government resources.
Types of Duty
The Operations Specialist is stationed throughout the Nation, including Alaska, Hawaii, Porto Rico, and Guam. An OS enhances and utilizes all skill sets aboard cutters, and applies their specialty knowledge ashore in command centers located all throughout the Coast Guard. OS often work with, and alongside policy and decision makers, members of other branches of service, and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. An OS can expect to spend a majority of their career as a watchstander, staffing a 24/7, 365 day a year operation.