Coast Guard Fellow, Institute for Politics and Strategy
Commander Bertsch assumed the duties as Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Cutter VIGILANT (WMEC-617) in June 2019. As Commanding Officer, he led the officer’s and crew of VIGILANT through one alien migration interdiction patrol supporting District Seven, and five counter-drug patrols under the control of Joint Interagency Task Force South. Conducting three counter-narcotics patrols in the Caribbean Sea, and two in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, he oversaw the interception of over 13,952 KG of illegal contraband and the detention of thirty suspected narco-traffickers from ten vessel interdictions. In addition to leading VIGILANT through the tumultuous global pandemic, he also helped ensure stability and security in the Western Hemisphere by managing and executing four training evolutions with key regional partner nations. Under his supervision, VIGILANT also saved six lives, assisted nineteen mariners in distress and repatriated twenty-five migrants during their patrols.
Commander Bertsch received his commission in 2001 upon graduating from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Research, he was assigned as a Deck Watch Officer on USCGC TAMPA, home-ported in Portsmouth, VA. Subsequent afloat assignments included serving as the Commanding Officer of USCGC COBIA in Mobile, AL, USCGC AQUIDNECK, in Manama, Bahrain, and USCGC NANTUCKET in St. Petersburg, Florida. His most recent afloat assignment was as the Executive Officer of USCGC CONFIDENCE in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Commander Bertsch’s assignments ashore include serving as an Operational Planning Analyst at Atlantic Area; the Coast Guard Counter Drug and Mass Migration Liaison to the Western Hemisphere Directorate (J5) on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon; and the Executive Assistant for the Assistant Commandant of Capability (CG-7). He holds master’s degrees from Purdue University and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College as well as a doctorate in Homeland Security from NorthCentral University. Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Commander Bertsch is the son of CAPT Fred (USN, ret.) and Cindy Bertsch. Commander Bertsch is married to Jessica Burger from Lafayette, Indiana. They have been married since 2006 and have three children, Fred (“Quint,” 9), Camden (“Gracie,” 6), and Auvie (5).