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
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."