Civil Air Patrol continues auxiliary efforts for the Total Force

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicolas Z. Erwin
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

In 2015, the Air Force Doctrine Volume 2 “Leadership” was updated to include the Civil Air Patrol as an official Air Force auxiliary, and part of the Total Force.

“All Airmen, including the members of the Civil Air Patrol, are directly responsible for acquiring, delivering, supporting, launching and driving Airpower,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “The Civil Air Patrol has a critical role in attracting and developing innovative individuals who have an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who can help reshape the design of the Air Force in line with the ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’ Action Orders.”

The doctrine lists the active duty Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, retirees, contractors and other groups supporting the Air Force mission as other parts of the Total Force. When acting on behalf of the Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol is aligned under First Air Force.

Since 2020, the auxiliary has logged more than 365 days of continuous support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This included flying test kits, vaccines and critical protective equipment to hospitals, which was the largest coordinated effort since World War II.

The inclusion of the Civil Air Patrol allows for approximately 59,000 volunteers to support non-combat related Air Force missions within the United States. They also act as ambassadors to the Air Force to communities that may not have consistent military exposure. 

“CAP is in over 1,400 communities across the United States and its territories,” said John Russo, the assistant deputy for the Air Force Auxiliary. “In many cases, CAP may be the closest Air Force-associated unit a person interested in aviation and the military comes in contact with.”

The auxiliary members conduct 90% of the inland search and rescue missions in the U.S. tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and other agencies, and has nearly 7,000 aircrew members and 33,00 responders trained to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s standards.

“The Civil Air Patrol bolsters many of the Air Force homeland operations,” Russo said. “The auxiliary flies Air Force-assigned missions at about 1/40th the cost of an active unit. For example, during every hurricane response, the program saves the Air Force $8 million. They are also recognized by the Air Rescue Coordination Center with about 100 lives saved each year.”

The Civil Air Patrol provides intercept training, light cargo transport and aerial imagery for disaster damage assessments to support local, state and national agencies, along with disaster relief.

Another example of how the Air Force Auxiliary provides support to the United States is its ability to be an avenue for a diversity of cadets and students interested in pursuing aviation and STEM-education and careers.

“Civil Air Patrol has cadets as young as 12 years old, and gives youth the chance to learn more about the military and service to their community,” Russo explained. “The Civil Air Patrol has squadrons located in underserved areas, exposing more diverse youth to the opportunities the Total Force offers.”

The Civil Air Patrol provides an Air Force-style organization with values, structure, and focus on aerospace. For young Americans seeking to learn about service, to give back to their community, and explore more about aviation or the military, the Civil Air Patrol is a great opportunity to prepare them for service in the Air Force, Russo said.