Military News

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wyoming Civil Air Patrol now part of Total Force

by Senior Airman Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


9/10/2015 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- When conducting missions for the Air Force as its official auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol is included in the Air Force's definition of the total force after a recent decision by Air Force leadership. CAP has provided 74 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

The Air Force updated Doctrine Volume 2, "Leadership," expanding the Air Force's descriptions of total force and Airmen to now consist of active-duty, Guard, Reserve, civilian and auxiliary members, that is, members of the CAP, which supplements the Air Force.

Historically, the broader term Airmen referred to uniformed and civilian members of the U.S. Air Force (officer or enlisted, regular, Reserve, or Guard) regardless of rank, component or specialty.

With this newest change, Air Force leaders will consider each part of the total force, including the auxiliary, when determining the most effective and efficient ways to complete the mission. CAP has approximately 57,000 volunteers and 550 aircraft assigned to more than 1,500 stateside units available or currently supporting non-combat missions on behalf of the Air Force.

"It feels really good to be recognized by the Air Force for all the things we do," said CAP Maj. Aaron Seng, CAP Cheyenne Squadron commander. "All of our interaction with the Air Force has been good, but there hasn't always been widespread recognition."

Wyoming's CAP units focus on search and rescue missions mostly, Seng said.

"Being able to save someone's life is a tremendous feeling," he said.

For their aerial missions, the Wyoming CAP has five Cessna 182s and 1 Cessna Turbo 206 at their disposal, said CAP Col. Harold "Ken" Johnston II, Wyoming Wing commander. Two of them, including the 206, have forward looking infrared cameras for nighttime operations.

"Last year, our folks saved five lives," Johnston said. "That's number-one in the nation [for CAP SAR]."

Nationwide, the auxiliary members -- who fly nearly 100,000 hours per year performing disaster relief, counterdrug, SAR, fighter interceptor training, aerial observation and cadet orientation flights -- will now be included in the total force and referred to as Airmen during the performance of official duties in recognition of their contributions to the Air Force.

"It's going to be interesting," said Johnston about the CAP's new designation as auxiliary Airmen.

Instead of resting on their laurels now that the CAP cadets and leaders are now considered Airmen, Johnston intends to use this distinction to improve their relations with the rest of the Total Force and find more areas to assist.

"What we do is provide volunteers who go out and perform services the military can do, but on a much more cost effective basis," he said.

Whereas each hour of flight for Blackhawk helicopters costs the taxpayer about $6,000, CAP Airmen flying Cessnas cost about $150 per hour, Johnston said. He hopes to be more integrated into military activities to ease the burden on taxpayers.

Another benefit of more widespread recognition of the CAP is its potential effect on youths. Seng said people often worry about the direction the children and teens of America are heading in, but being part of the CAP gives him a sense of hope because cadets volunteer to be part of CAP efforts, especially SAR ground teams.

"It's a great way to give back to the community and a great way to volunteer," Seng said. "Seeing cadets step up for their community, for their state, for their country -- it's an amazing thing."

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