June 14, 2008

Put me in the game, Coach!

This 500 year flood has me sitting by the phone awaiting the call. The guys at work were saying this could become another Katrina, if only in the square mileage of damage. The silver lining is that most people are evacuating this time around. That's very, very good news.

As an SDIS operator, I am ready to go to work, and use my skills to help the recovery effort. But even if I don't go, I have little doubt that CAP is/will be involved someway, somehow. This is the kind of stuff we train for, and Iowa Wing is among the best in the nation. Stay safe, and good luck for those operators that do go.

Semper Vigilans

June 12, 2008

ARCHER, revisited

The ARCHER system has been a bit of a big deal in the Civil Air Patrol world for at least as long as I've been a member. Well, last week Gen. Courter released the findings of the ARCHER review summit.

The summit attendees analyzed the missions CAP has performed and determined that ARCHER is most useful in assisting with aircraft SAR missions and it is also good for documenting the extent of tree/plant diseases, looking for man-made objects in the water, and for assisting with the secondary effects of situations like oil spills on the surface of the water. ARCHER is also good for
detecting hematite soil and other “disturbed earth” that has been dug up and placed on the surface (e.g., it could aid in tunnel detection) or “disturbed earth” caused by tire tracks of vehicles operating on unpaved surfaces. This and the ARCHER change detection feature could be especially helpful along the U.S. border or around military base perimeters. Finally, the group determined that
ARCHER is great for providing hyperspectral data for universities and research agencies such as the Air Force Research Laboratory. One point to highlight is ARCHER is very good at automatically geo-referencing imagery with a high degree of accuracy. While we have had many positive opportunities, it is important to note that after extensive testing for counterdrug missions, the experts have concluded that ARCHER in its present configuration will not be effective (without an
unacceptable false alarm rate) at detecting specific plants. However, the Air Force is studying a proposal on how to upgrade the ARCHER system so that it can effectively conduct these missions in the future.
I agree with all the points except the first. ARCHER had a lot of potential in search and rescue, but my understanding is that it failed to perform well in all it's actual exercises. I was on a mission two years ago where ARCHER was deployed, flew right over the guy and failed to pick him up. Of course, the reason was the canopy of the trees blocked the view. Not the fault of the equipment, but the lesson is to take into account the terrain when using high-tech gear.

However, it's the Steve Fossett thing that puts it over the top for me. Granted, the Nevada desert is huge, but one would think it picked up something.

Of course, I'm not an ARCHER operator. One of you can prove me wrong.
Thanks River Aux for bringing this to my attention via CAPTalk

"Zigg" has posted some interesting information about the ARCHER system. Look for it in the comments. He makes me eat my words. I was wrong. Sorry.

Boy Scouts and Tornadoes

This morning I turned on my television to learn about another tornado

This one went through a boy scout camp, killing four and injuring forty (as of this morning).

It is not secret CAP and the Scouts have a friendly rivalry going on, but these scouts demonstrated true heroism as they battled the tornado and it's aftermath. Stories were told of scouts performing CPR on each other as they awaited rescue.

My condolences go out to those four families who lost someone so dear to them.

Semper Vigilans.

June 8, 2008

Gen. Tuxill's Retirement Ceremony

This past Saturday, I had the great honor and fortune to attend Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill's retirement ceremony. Gen. Tuxill was the Adjutant General for Maryland, and served in that capacity with distinction. The wing was invited to attend because, as the General put it, we "were there for the guard".

As with most of these ceremonies, there was a lot of hurry up and wait. We, along with representatives of the National Guard, Air Guard and Maryland Defense Force rehearsed the ceremony to ensure everyone was on the same page. The rehearsal went smoothly, and we were dismissed early for lunch and general wandering around.

I took the only other cadet from my squadron able to attend to the Maryland Military Museum, which seemed to focus entirely on Maryland's contribution to the First World War. There was, however, a nice video on the State's involvement in the Second World War.

The rest of the day besides the ceremony itself was spent mingling with two of the group commanders, a couple of the wing staff members, and representatives of several other CAP squadrons. Some Cadets did a rousing rendition of "Don't Stop Believing"to pass the time. As Major Tiso (our group Emergency Services Officer) observed, it's a great song when Journey sings it, but they were having fun (and so was I).

Around 12:00, an Air Force Major came to us and called all the Civil Air Patrol's representatives over. He spoke for several minutes about how the (former) Adjutant General was incredibly impressed with our performance, and how much he appreciated our help. As a result, we were all presented with a Challenge Coin for our service during that day, and for the duration of the General's command.

The ceremony itself was not so breif, but the comments made by the the guests were. The Governor, the incoming Adjutant General and General Tuxill all made speeches. The General, having a lot to be proud of, cited the combat sorties flown by the Air Guard in support of operations around the globe, and the deployment of Military Department forces to support the recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

The General did speak breifly about the Wing, noting that although we weren't under the Maryland Military Department, we were there when the Guard needed us, and he thanked us for our help once again.

I must thank the General for all the support he has given us. He has gone to bat for this wing more times than most, giving us money from his department, providing National Guard Support, and serving as a champion of our organization as a whole. He has placed himself in front of the State Legislature to get us money, and assigned us missions that would normally be assigned to Guard units.

As I said in my last post, General Tuxill's support for the Maryland Wing has been unwavering, and serves as an example to Adjutant Generals of all states. I wish I had a challenge coin to give the General, as a way to say Thank You to him.

Good Luck Sir, and Semper Vigilans!

June 2, 2008

MD Adjutant General Retiring

It is with sadness that I say farewell to Maj. Gen. Bruce Tuxill, USAF and the Maryland Adjutant General. General Tuxill has been a steadfast supporter of CAP throughout the many years I have been involved in Maryland Wing. I had the pleasure to briefly meet him at the Maryland Wing Ball last year. He was certainly a stand-up guy, and his comments about CAP and what we can be ring in my ears to this day.

General Tuxill's support of the CAP is a model to all State Adjutant Generals. His belief in us has landed CAP many great opportunities in this state, and increased our readiness and willingness to serve. With his support, Maryland is a fine wing to serve in.

To further demonstrate his support of the CAP, the wing has been invited to participate in the General's retirement ceremony.

I hope that his successor will follow the example the General has laid out. And perhaps one day soon, I will be able to meet the General again, but this time as a fellow CAP officer.