Captain Willie L. Carmichael
Captain Carmichael assumed command of the USCG’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia operating in U.S. Central Command’s AOR in July 2020. He recently completed a tour as the U.S. Coast Guard’s Liaison Officer to U.S. Southern Command. During this tour, Captain Carmichael was instrumental in expanding the U.S. Coast Guard’s role within the joint force across the competition continuum in the Western Hemisphere. Most notably Captain Carmichael supported the whole of government’s efforts to defeat transnational criminal organizations through enhanced counter narcotics operations, counter the malign influences of external state actors and respond to the humanitarian crisis within Venezuela.
Captain Carmichael has more than 12 years of sea time with previous afloat assignments on five major cutters and three 110’ island class patrol boats. His initial tour of duty was as a Deck Watch Officer aboard CGC HARRIET LANE. He served as the Operations Officer aboard CGC TAMPA. He served as the Executive Officer aboard Coast Guard cutters BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, JARVIS and MORGENTHAU following a cross decking of the crew. While assigned to Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, Captain Carmichael commanded CGC WRANGELL in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Following this deployed assignment, Captain Carmichael took command of CGC JEFFERSON ISLAND in South Portland, ME. His most recent command was onboard CGC TAHOMA; a 270 ft medium endurance cutter homeported in Kittery, ME. During this tour Captain Carmichael enforced maritime border security through fisheries enforcement, illegal migrant interdictions, and counter narcotics operations in the Atlantic and U.S. Southern Command’s AOR. Captain Carmichael’s ashore experience includes three years as the Fifth Coast Guard District’s Patrol Boat Scheduler and four years as the Seventh Coast Guard District’s High Tempo, High Maintenance Program Manager for eight dual crewed patrol boats. Captain Carmichael also served as the District’s transition officer for the Coast Guard’s first 18 Fast Response Cutters.
Captain Carmichael’s military decorations include Meritorious Service Medals, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medals, Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and Commandant’s Letters of Commendation, along with other team and unit awards.
He is a native of Chesapeake, VA. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1996, where he earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Math-Computer Science. He has a Masters in Business Administration from American Military University.
Commander Staci K. Rutsch
CDR Staci Rutsch assumed the role of Deputy, Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in June 2020 after a tour as Executive Officer of USCGC MOHAWK. She is a 2003 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy where she was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Government and Public Policy.
Upon receiving her commission, CDR Rutsch served as a Deck Watch Officer aboard USCGC TAHOMA (WMEC 908), New Bedford, MA. In 2005, CDR Rutsch was selected for duties as the Search and Rescue Controller and Command Duty Officer at Atlantic Area and District Five Command Center, Portsmouth, VA, overseeing operations from the Mississippi River to across the entire Atlantic Ocean. In 2008, CDR Rutsch returned to sea as Operations Officer aboard USCGC THETIS (WMEC 910), Key West, FL where she managed the cutter’s counter narcotic and alien migrant interdiction operations in the Florida Straits, Windward Pass, and Eastern Pacific including Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief in Haiti. In 2010, CDR Rutsch reported to Joint Interagency Task Force South where she served as the Caribbean Targeting Officer and Surface Action Officer. During this tour, CDR Rutsch coordinated over 40 counter illicit trafficking operations interdicting over 85 metric tons of illegal contraband.
CDR Rutsch assumed command of USCGC AQUIDNECK (WPB 1309), Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, Manama, Bahrain in May, 2012. Cutter AQUIDNECK deployed throughout the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and US Navy Fifth Fleet strategic objectives. She assumed command of USCGC RICHARD ETHERIDGE (WPC 1102), in June 2013. While commanding cutter RICHARD ETHERIDGE, CDR Rutsch supported operations from Miami to San Juan, serving as a proof of concept for the new platform’s capabilities. CDR Rutsch served at Atlantic Area Headquarters in Portsmouth, VA from 2015-2018 as the Assistant Maritime Security Chief and Future Operations Deputy where she oversaw force allocation and law enforcement and maritime security policy. In 2018 she reported to CGC MOHAWK and served as the second in command of the most successful WMEC in the fleet.
Commander Rutsch’s military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Captain Jarvis Award for Inspirational Leadership, South Florida Federal Executive Board’s Valor Award, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal and numerous unit level awards.
CDR Rutsch is married to Andrew Rutsch, US Army, SFC (ret).
MKCM J. Steve Baxter
Command Master Chief, PATFORSWA
Master Chief J. Steve Baxter officially assumed the duties as Command Master Chief for Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) in July 2020.
Originally from Pensacola, FL, Master Chief Baxter enlisted in 1998. He has served as Engineer Petty Officer of Coast Guard Cutter DRUMMOND, Coast Guard Cutter COHO, Aids to Navigation Team Long Island Sound, and Aids to Navigation Team Fort Pierce, FL. He has also served as supervisor of Sector Hampton Roads Ready for Operations program and team leader for Special and Emergency Operations and Procedures (SEOPS) at PACAREA Training Team. Master Chief’s previous assignment was at Fast Response Cutter Project Resident Office (FRC PRO) in Lockport, LA where he led the mechanical division supervising the production of 15 Fast Response Cutters. Also, Master Chief served as the collateral duty Command Master Chief at FRC PRO and Chief of the Mess for the Greater New Orleans Chiefs Mess.
Master Chief Baxter is a proud graduate of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Academy class 156, and the Coast Guard Senior Enlisted Leadership Course class 51.
Master Chief Baxter’s personal awards include four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, four Coast Guard Achievement Medals, all with operational distinguishing devices, and a permanent Cutterman.