Vice Commandant’s 2018 Watch, Listen and Learn List

February 19, 2018

Written by Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Michel

The world all around us is changing – the dynamic geopolitical environment, the rapid dispersion of technology, and the very skills and platforms necessary for us to meet our critical missions. To keep pace with this environment, we too must learn and evolve in our critical thinking and expand our strategic perspective. Understanding that our 21st century workforce consumes both traditional and digital forms of communication, I am sharing my second Watch, Listen and Learn list – one that spans a diverse menu of topics from innovation to leadership to geostrategic initiatives. I encourage you to share this list with the members of your unit and your friends and family – and openly engage, in respectful dialogue, to cultivate your professional and personal growth.



Chain of Command. Chain of Command is an intimate portrait of the war against violent extremism – from Iraq to Colombia to Afghanistan – and the men and women devoting their lives to it. This series shares the inspiring stories of everyday service members – from the highest levels of leadership to the men and women on the front lines – to serve and defend this nation. As a member of the armed services, U.S. Coast Guard men and women are contributing to countering violent extremism and are on the front lines in the Western Hemisphere working to dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations where they are most vulnerable – at sea.


Garry Kasparov: Don’t Fear Intelligent Machines; Work with Them! Artificial intelligence is a growing field –and I would say that it is a revolution in the making for the maritime industry. This revolution has great implications on the future of our workforce as U.S. Coast Guard members witness the impacts to A.I. in our commercial ports, and on the vessels we inspect. In the end, as Kasparov shares, we shouldn’t fear A.I., instead we should learn how best to harness it’s potential to advance the skills and tools of Coast Guard personnel to ensure the economic prosperity and security of our nation.


Sholomo Benartzi: Saving for Tomorrow, Tomorrow. It is unlikely that, in our lifetime, we will ever see a more transformational change to the military benefit program as we have witnessed in the Blended Retirement System (BRS). It is incumbent on every member to build their financial literacy and understanding of the retirement system benefits available to them. In addition to using BRS calculators and other means of investment guidance, Benartzi’s TEDTalk reinforces the long-term benefits of starting your financial planning now.


GE and Port of LA launch Digital Pilot. American prosperity remains inextricably linked to our standing as a maritime nation. As technological advances introduce opportunities, and risk, the Coast Guard plays a critical role in the access and movement of more than $4.6 trillion of annual economic activity in maritime transportation system. As such, the Coast Guard must keep pace with the increasing use, complexity, and interconnectivity in the Marine Transportation System to ensure we are facilitating – and not impeding – this vital maritime highway system. This video of GE Transportation and the Port of Los Angeles is just one example of how innovation is occurring in our Nations maritime infrastructure.




Constitutional: All Coast Guard members swear an oath to defend and protect the Constitution against all of its enemies – both foreign and domestic. Through contemporary interviews and historical stories, this podcast makes the constitution come alive from the perspective of the people who framed and reframed it over time.



Energy Dominance: A New era for U.S. Energy? The United States is on the verge of becoming the top energy producer to the world as opposed to a primary energy consumer. This energy renaissance continues to shape the Nation’s strategic objectives for energy at home and abroad. While there is uncertainty in the markets, the U.S. Coast Guard is bullish in that we will be Semper Paratus – Always Ready – for whatever changes take place in the U.S. energy landscape.


Finding Mastery. Through interviews, the host performance psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais, connects listeners to inspiring stories and insight on how to achieve mastery from the world’s highest achievers. I challenge any organization to go toe-to-toe with the U.S. Coast Guard Workforce – a team filled with high achievers all yearning to achieve mastery in their craft and in their profession. Dr. Gervais’ unique perspective and thoughtful exploration of his guest’s journey to redefine what is possible offers all listeners something to learn.



Containers. The U.S. Coast Guard is trusted to secure and facilitate our maritime critical infrastructure – economic activity worth $4.6 trillion in annual economic activity. Released in 2017, Containers is an 8-part audio documentary about how global trade has transformed the economy and ourselves – and it provides a window into the commercial forces that make our Nation an economic powerhouse and a beacon for prosperity.





 The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro The book is about a young stowaway from New York’s Lower East Side named Billy Gawronski who swam the Hudson River to get aboard Admiral Richard Byrd’s ship as it was about to depart for the Antarctic. Seemingly unrelated elements: service to nation, Arctic and Antarctic, and innovation, all intertwine to weave a portrait of a young’s man extraordinary adventures and selfless service to the nation. A must read for fans of polar adventures.





Brilliant Beacons by Eric Jay Dolin. The Coast Guard is a strategy driven organization squarely linked to our Nation’s shared economic prosperity goals. Our links to trade stretch back 227 years to a time when the maritime industry relied on brilliant beacons to guide the early pioneers of commerce. Brilliant Beacons explores the rich history of the American lighthouse, from the bureaucracy that built and managed them, to the men who tended them, through wars, the science and engineering that lit them, and the storms that pummeled them.



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