November 24, 2007

The Anniversary book.

You guys remember that 65th anniversary book that was offered 2 years ago? How many of you actually bought one? I'll raise my hand for that one. Well, after 2 years of waiting for the 65th Anniversary book to come out, I finally got my copy. It came in the mail a couple days ago; and I've been reading it, re-reading it and picking it apart since then.

Firstly, this was a great attempt; and the results are nothing to dismiss either. It has a general history of the CAP, plus photos and information on all of CAP's doings from 1941 to time of publication. I especially liked the back where it had images of all the aircraft that we have used, the uniforms we have worn (although I thought that section would be much longer) and a brief overview of how the organization works. It's an excellent "layman's guide to the Civil Air Patrol" if there ever was one.

But it does seem a bit too short. One would think that within 65 years of service there would be a lot more information and antic dotes. The Coastal Patrol section is nearly 1/2 the book. Don't get me wrong, it's important, but it's been covered so much that I want more about the post-war period.

All in all, I would say that it is an excellent addition to a squadron library; and also for those obsessed with CAP (such as myself). It could easily be put out on tables at recruiting events. Having people flip through it to see the grand history of CAP and some great images from it too would be immensely helpful. If you have the money, I say buy it!

One other thing...Turn to pg 78, look down at the bottom picture and tell me you're not jealous.
(I'll scan and post as soon as I can.)

November 20, 2007

These Things We Do...

As has become a bit of a recurring theme around here, another CAPTalk thread is the genesis of this post. What do we, the volunteer membership get out of Civil Air Patrol? I responded in the thread the Leadership experience. However, these are just the quantitative things that we see on a regular basis.

In addition to my CAP responsibilities, I am a full time college student; and work as a Resident Assistant in the Freshman dorm. This past weekend, a colleague and friend of mine passed away in his sleep. The cause of death is still unknown; as the family has not released that information, as is their right. I was alerted to this crisis when a friend of mine called me and asked why an ambulance was outside my building. The resident hall I live in is usually bustling with activity; something that one learns to tune out. I had no idea that EMTs were in my building, and the hall right across from mine. I hung up the phone and went into the main lobby to find a public safety officer. I ask what's going on and that's when I got the above news. Naturally, I jumped into response mode. The officer gave me the job of crowd control; and I did it. I asked what I should say, and was told. That was the rest of my day until we gathered the residents of my building to announce the news.

This is not a self-aggrandizing post. It is meant to show that some things we get from our Civil Air Patrol experience is not quantitative; or something that is easy to count. Some of the best things that come from our experiences here is what happened to me. I can say that CAP gave me strength, calmness under pressure, and the ability to deal with a crisis effectively and professionally. With emergencies my specialty, I knew how to react, what to say and what not to when many of my colleagues were uncomfortable an unsure about the above. One never knows what their CAP service has given them until events like the above happen. I feel that it is important to remember this every time you re-up for another year.

I also ask that you keep this family in your thoughts, and if you are the praying type, your prayers as well.

November 1, 2007


Personal Feelings aside, a recent CAPTalk thread has opened up debate on weather or not CAP officers are/should be commissioned. Usually, the President or Governor of a state will commission officers. As cited in the thread, the idea of the President commissioning all officers in the U.S. Armed Forces is rather new, and comes out of World War II. However, the President does not 'commission' CAP officers. Rather, they are appointed by the Secretary of the Air Force. Could CAP better accomplish it's missions if the officers were in fact commissioned by the President or other authority?

Firstly, we should acknowledge that a commission would imply authority. Right now, the enisted and subordinate grades are not required to render salute to a CAP officer (although most do); however CAP officers are required to do so to superior grades. Would not a commission warrant a salute from subordinates? I believe that it would require them to regardless of branch. Secondly, it raises the issue of squadrons commanded by a 1st Lieutenant, with majors and Lt. Colonels in them. Although this could turn into a minor point, a commission would imply that the highest ranking officer assume command. Additionally, a commission might place CAP under the auspices of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

However, with CAP assuming more missions alongside the Air Force and other military branches, the idea of a commission may be worth considering. My wing is an equal player in air operations for our state: sitting alongside and equal to the Air National Guard, and Army National Guard Aviation units. If Maj. Gen. Tuxill is to be believed (and I have no reason to think he is lying), then my wing at least will have a greater role to play in Maryland's homeland security mission. So then, wouldn't a commission be a beneficial thing for members who work side-by-side with the Real Military?

I believe the answer to this question to be yes, if only because it would allow us to better integrate us into the real forces. With our expanding mission here in Maryland, we are becoming highly visible in the greater military community. True, many know who we are now, but many others do not. It will become hard to justify men and women running around with bars who are not commissioned. It's not fair to the officers who had to earn their bars.

I should be clear about this point, however. I do not think that a simple commissioning is fair either without a major overhaul of the requirements and training to be an officer. (See "Expertise, Responsibility, Corporatess") A major overhaul of our PD system at the initial levels would be needed before any sort of commissioning could be considered. In this post I will not venture to offer a solution to this problem, as it is not the point of this article.

Integration into the real military is a very real thing right now. What is to be said of us; members who call themselves officers but have no commission? Even state guard officers have a commission: the governor of their state is the promoting authority in this case. Why, then, should the Civil Air Patrol limit itself to simple appointments? I believe that a commission, with proper qualifications to attain one, is an integral part of CAP moving forward. Perhaps a compromise could be considered: the governors of the states that the wings serve could commission the CAP officers within that state. It would be a reversion to the Civil War model of regiments like the 54th Massachusett's or the 23rd New Jersey. However, the solution to modern problems can often be found in the past.