Military News

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New CAP squadron encourages today's cadets to be tomorrow's aerospace leaders

by Senior Airman Christine Griffiths
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

3/9/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England  -- A new Civil Air Patrol squadron was activated March 2, 2015, on RAF Mildenhall.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Sharreen Taylor, 100th Operations Support Squadron interim squadron superintendent, was appointed to the grade of Civil Air Patrol first lieutenant and assumed command of the unit, with CAP Maj. Walt Brown, Air Force Special Operations Command: Digital Dagger team site lead and senior systems engineer contactor, taking on the role of the squadron's deputy commander.

The new unit, starting out with 20 cadets and 15 adult members, is one of seven squadrons established at U.S. Air Force installations overseas and is the only units posted in the U.K. since the early 1990s, when the CAP squadron at RAF Alconbury was inactivated.

The U.S. has approximately 1,500 different CAP squadrons which can be found on U.S. Air Force bases, in adjacent communities, or situated in towns well away from any military installation.

The missions of CAP are to conduct emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education of the general public. Members are strictly volunteers.

"Civil Air Patrol is chartered by Congress as the official Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force," Brown said. "So it's about as affiliated with the Air Force as you can get without actually being on active duty or in the guard or reserves.

"The way that search and rescue is set up, CAP is a primary provider in the continental U.S." Brown explained. "Civil Air Patrol flies about 90 percent of all inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, with an average of 70 lives saved per year ranging from downed aircraft to lost hunters and hikers. About 80 percent of CAP's annual budget comes from the Air Force, which buys the airplanes and provides operations support and some equipment for the emergency services missions."

With no responsibility to conduct search and rescue missions in the U.K., the squadron being established here will make the CAP Cadet Program and aerospace education opportunities available to U.S. Military and DoD dependent youth ages 12 to 18 in the Mildenhall, Lakenheath and Feltwell community.

"The focus for our cadets is aerospace education, along with leadership, character building and physical training," Taylor said. "With that, we will also provide some training on ground search and rescue qualifications for the cadets, so that when they go back to the states and join whatever unit they go to they will already be trained and qualified in some of those things."

Cadets will learn CAP history, uniform wear, rank structure, and customs and courtesies during their first five weeks in the "Great Start" program. Once complete, members will receive their first Cadet Airman rank, or one stripe on their uniform.

Additionally, cadets will work side-by-side in different activities with Royal Air Force Air Cadets, the Ramstein Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron for a summer encampment, and RAF Lakenheath Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp to participate in drill competitions.

Members will also have the opportunity to fly in 352nd Special Operations Group and 100th Operations Group aircraft.

"The 352nd Special Operations Group and 100th OG have agreed to support us with orientation flights on their aircraft," Brown explained. "Part of the program is getting the kids excited about aviation and getting them in the air. Flying changes a lot of people's perspective of things. Obviously, all of the cadets that are here at Mildenhall have flown in an airplane at some point, because they got here from the States. But not many of them have flown in the back of a KC-135 Stratotanker or a MC-130J Commando II or any of the other types of military aircraft that are here. One of our goals is to schedule those types of flights two to three times a year to give them those experiences and get them interested in, and excited about, aviation."

Mildenhall Cadet Squadron meetings are scheduled every Monday from 6:30 to 9 p.m., in the Hardstand Fitness Center's Health and Wellness Center classroom.

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