February 28, 2007

Eighth Service

Imagine a world where CAP is independent. Imagine a time when Civil Air Patrol is no longer under the Air Force, but is a separate and equal agency in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Imagine being the Seventh Uniformed Service.

This new bill presented to the House may be the first step in this new direction. Is that a good thing? It's too early to tell. But what would it mean? Let us not forget that CAP was it's own agency during most of Coastal Patrol, not falling under the Army Air Corps until mid-1943. For the first two years of our life, we were our own agency under the Department of Civil Defense.

For our Emergency Services mission, it means benefits. New missions; along the borders looking out for illegal immigrants and possible terrorists. No longer would we have to worry about the Posse Comitatus Act impeding our efforts. Imagine the resumption of Coastal Patrol, flying out to intercept suspicious vessels and identify them, cutting down on the workload for the Coast Guard, and saving time, money and boosting security for our ports. Imagine money to purchase FLIR and other hi-tech systems, the money and instructors to train us, and enough left over to maintain proficiency.

But what of our Cadet Program and Aerospace Education? I don't see why we couldn't maintain both as the status quo. With regard to Cadets, even if this transfer to DHS takes place, what would hold us back? Surely there would be a limit on Cadet participation in actual missions. Do keep in mind that the Cadet Program was alive and kicking during our Coastal Patrol days, and even before we became the Army Air Corps Auxiliary. We would have to re-structure it, yes. The lack of Air Force support would mean new uniforms, and simply becoming an 'Aviation Cadet' program with a military flavor.

It should be noted that even though we would be a separate entity, we could still work closely with the Air Force. For one, our Cadet Programs could be operated as a joint program with USAF and CAP. Secondly, like the Coast Guard, CAP could still be used by the Air Force for it's non-combatant missions, and could even be absorbed into the regular Air Forces if the DoD deemed it necessary.

The point is this: a transfer to DHS would not be a scary thing. It could be great, but also has the potential to be bad. Such a move would create the need for a massive re-organization within CAP. It would also mean re-evaluating pretty much our entire ES program, and by default, CAPR 60-3. However, having new missions, and the money to properly equip us would be well worth it. Imagine saying to someone who wants to join "I spent two weeks along the border last month" or "I fly out and recon ships for the coast guard every other weekend". Recruiting and Retention would become easier. And most of all, if we do our job well enough, we will finally earn the respect among the Military we rightfully deserve.

February 26, 2007

Just thought I'd share

Legislation to Involve CAP

Brought to me by RiverAux over at CAPTalk and via VFMZ-TV online:

A local congressman has a plan designed to improve security around the U-S
border. Representative Charlie Dent is scheduled to hold a news conference
tomorrow in Allentown to discuss his plan. The legislation involves increasing
the role of the Civil Air Patrol in Homeland Security. The Civil Air
Patrol is a volunteer organization that is often used in emergency situations
for things like search and rescue. Congressman Dent's meeting is scheduled for
11o'clock Monday morning at the Queen City Municipal Airport in Allentown. Dent
is scheduled to introduce the legislation in Washington on Tuesday.

Overall, I like this. I can't wait to read the actual bill and see just what our new mission would be. As a CAP member, I sincerely hope this bill passes. Anything to increase our mission in Homeland Security is a good thing. It's back to basics for us. It's what we do.

The article and a video can be found at http://wfmz.com/view/?id=65615

February 25, 2007

Washington on Leadership

Being a student at Washington College, I was recently privy to a talk on George Washington and the lessons he can teach us about effective leadership. The talk was chaired by the Executive Director of Mt. Vernon, James C. Rees.

The talk focused on the subject of his book: "George Washington's Leadership Lessons". The talk was very good, focusing on Washington's character, saying that character was the key to good leadership. However, Mr. Rees only had 45 minutes to cover all elements of his book, and therefore it was a very general presentation on Washington's character.

However, the talk was good enough that I bought a copy of the book after the lecture. At only 181 pages, it is a quick read, and like the talk itself, it is very general and to the point. Mr. Rees spoke of the length, saying his publisher wanted it "Short enough that [a traveller] could pick it up at the airport, and finish reading it by the time he touched down at his destination".

Yet, despite this, it provides an excellent overview on the successful character traits for leadership. Although not as sweeping or elegant as David McCullough's "1776", the quick and to the point style allows it to be enjoyed as a 'primer' to the Father of our country for those who are only beginning to learn about Washington. The style also lends itself well to young adults, and could serve well as a supplement to our Cadet Program as another way to teach the important aspects of leadership. For seniors, much of what it says can also be found in the AFAIDL 00013, and yet when I read the same here, I found that it makes much more sense. Overall, a recommended read for both Cadets and Seniors alike.

"George Washington's Leadership Lessons" can be bought on Amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/George-Washingtons-Leadership-Lessons-Effective/dp/0470088877

February 8, 2007

Rescuemen? or a Flying Club?

I was in Wal-Mart the other day, browsing the movies, and I came across "The Guardian". For those who don't know, it's about Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technicians, more commonly called 'Rescue Swimmers'. Costner and Kutcher are excellent in this portrayal of these unsung heroes.
Despite it's military-movie cliches and some cheese, it is mostly an enjoyable experience. The heroism of Coster, and later Kutcher's character is fun, and inspiring to watch. The soundtrack is not bad either, and the song playing over the end credits is probably my new favorite. ("Never Let Go", by Trevor Rabin, Sung by Bryan Adams)
A must watch for anyone in the business of Rescue, but anyone calling themselves an American should sit down and watch this one.
When you do, go to the "Special Features" and watch the "Unsung Heroes: So Others May Live". Pay particular attention to PO1 Watson says in one of his scenes:
You get to help them, and that's a cool thing...I have volunteered to put myself
in harms way for somebody that I don't know. So I better be ready when
that call comes in, because that's my calling as far as I'm concerned. I never take that lightly, and I never short-cut it.
At my squadron, most of our senior are pilots, and they do belong to what some would call the "Good Ol' Boys" club. Every week, the hot topic of conversation is who gets to rent the plane this weekend. There are exceptions, and yes, they do come through in the crunch, but sometimes, it seems as though us in the Civil Air Patrol loose sight of this fact. I know that I blogged about the new uniform earlier today, and so I'm as guilty as anyone else of focusing on frivolous things. I would say, however, that in light of the above, a renewed emphasis on the missions, and less on how cool we look.

Review of the New Corporate Blues

Last year, the NEC came out with a new uniform combination that the National Commander himself has asked all CAP members to wear. The uniform, featured at right, consists of a double-breasted jacket, white 'aviator' style shirt, and blue tie. Rank insignia is worn on the epaulets, with pin-on rank on the coat, and blue epaulet sleeves on the undershirt.
I did not want to bash this uniform without wearing it myself, and so when I came into some money, I purchased one, complete with all the insignia. When it came, I arranged it, ironed it, and put it on.
From a purely cosmetic view, the uniform itself is not too bad looking. Surely it could look better, but it could also be much worse. The uniform itself (if worn without ribbons, or if ribbons are kept to a minimum) resembles the dress uniform worn by many fire companies, evoking images of them to the general public. This is a pleasing alternative to the Corporate Blazer, as being in the business of Emergency Services, CAP should at least look the part. When the Jacket is removed, leaving just the white shirt and epaulets, it can resemble an airline pilot, or, again, a fireman.
On a positive note: This uniform can be used as both a Service and Mess Dress uniform, substituting a Bow-Tie for the regular Tie to create the latter. This saves many of us time and money, and creates a professional appearance during formal ceremonies. I also like the pin-on rank insignias. They look more professional than the cloth ranks worn on the other combinations. In addition, I am a proponent of wearing the "CAP" cutouts on the lapels. Although I understand the honor associated with wearing the "U.S." cutouts on our Air Force Style Blues, I feel uncomfortable wearing such devices for the same reasons I dislike the blue epaulets (see below).
The Downside: Like many on CAPTalk have expressed, wearing Air Force Rank Epaulets makes me feel uncomfortable. Others have done so much more than I with those epaulets on their shoulders, why should I wear them? Like many, I would be happier if 'CAP' was embroidered atop the rank, so as to eliminate this uncomfortable part. In addition, a fellow CAP officer, upon first seeing it, described it as a "pimp" jacket, which I can definitely see, and may even agree with.
I've decided to stick with our Short-Sleeve Blues for now, and pull this thing out if the Region Commander shows up, as she is very much a proponent of this combination. I figure it might not be a bad thing to have her on my side. In addition, I may use it as an alternative to the mess-dress as a cost-saving measure.

February 7, 2007

Innaugural Post

Welcome to the Air Patrolman. First, a little about me: I am a Technical Flight Officer in the Civil Air Patrol, holding ratings as a Mission Observer, currently training in GTM-3 and as an EMT. I currently attend Washington College in Chestertown, MD, majoring in Political Science. Although Politics is a large part of my life, mostly through default, I do not intend for this blog to become political in any way. This blog is to present opinions on the Civil Air Patrol, Emergency Services/Management and other 'things' related to those two.

And so, let the madness begin...