Commander’s Commentary - July 2016
June has been a very busy month across the Middle East Region.
Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina all completed their encampments. Delaware, NatCap, Maryland (Tri-Wing) and West Virginia started their
encampments the last week of the month and will complete them this weekend. Anyone that has been involved in running an encampment knows there are thousands of volunteer hours involved in staff selection and setting things up for success. It has been a few years since I spent a week at encampment, but I do have five under my belt and served as the commandant of cadets at my last one. While it is a labor of love for most of the staff, it is still a big labor. Thank you to all the staff who took a week of vacation to provide what is often the single most important activity in a cadet’s career. I was not able to visit all of them, it is especially hard when the entire region runs them in the same two weeks, but I did cover four of the seven wings in the region and hope to do better next year.
National Cadet Special Activities
June has also started the very busy National Cadet Special Activities season. Within our region we are hosting a Powered Flight Academy, the Honor Guard Academy, and two Region Cadet Leadership Schools. I will be heading down to Silver Flag at Tyndall AFB to help teach at the Air Force Civil Engineering Academy, and I hope to see some of you at the school. Make sure you say “hi” and tell me where you are from, if you are one of the students at the school. For everyone else, remember that you are not only representing yourself but you are representing your squadron, wing, and region. Many NCSA’s take place at Air Force bases and it may be the first time people on the base have interacted with CAP cadets. Follow your core values and our regulations, and I know you will leave a great impression.
CAP's move to Air Combat Command
On June 24th, CAP-USAF officially moved under Air Combat Command. A ceremony took place at Tyndall AFB, home of 1st Air Force (AFNORTH), our main U.S. Air Force customer. “Realignment of CAP-USAF to 1AF will streamline operations and resources, bolster mission execution and communication, and promote synergy with other 1AF programs to ensure more effective use of the CAP’s resources in its role as the Air Force Auxiliary. In short, the realignment under 1AF presents tremendous opportunities for CAP-USAF in conducting its mission and taking care of its members while also creating advantages for CAP’s largest customer – 1AF,” (from the Realignment FAQs on the Knowledge base).
Our national commander, Maj. Gen. Vazquez said, “This is a monumental day for 1st Air Force and CAP-USAF, and CAP is proud to be a part of this amazing team. This realignment presents tremendous opportunities for synergy and improved mission effectiveness for all three of our organizations.” There won’t be a lot of impact for the individual member but from an operational and strategic planning perspective, this change will have a very positive long term impact on our operations. The move has been in the works for almost three years, and it is a move in the right direction for the future.
A Sad Month for CAP
June was a month of loss for our CAP family. I won’t repeat what I wrote in my email to the region about Col Mary Feik, but she was a legend who will be missed by everyone but especially by our members in the MER and Maryland Wing, her home. There is a memorial service planned for 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at the BWI Airport Marriott, 1743 W. Nursery Road, in Linthicum, Maryland. Lt. Col. Robin Vest, Feik’s daughter, is seeking photos of her mother presenting Civil Air Patrol cadets with their Mary Feik Achievement certificates for a presentation. Photos of Feik presentations should be submitted via eServices. (click this link).
We also lost Mr. Jim Mallett. Although many of you may not have interacted with him personally, his work at national headquarters has impacted every one of you. “During the more than 20 years Mallett worked directly for CAP, he touched almost every aspect of the organization. As chief of Professional Development, he was instrumental in establishing the senior member professional development program still in place today. Later, as head of Aerospace Education, he developed major relationships between CAP and the aerospace community. During his most recent tenure, Mallett oversaw a modernization of Cadet Programs with the extensive rewriting of Cadet Programs materials,” (Kristi Carr – writer CAP Volunteer Now). Please keep him and his wife Susan, CAP’s Aerospace Education and youth development program coordinator, in your thoughts and prayers.
Air Force OPSEVAL
June was also the month for Air Force operations evaluations (OPSEVAL) for three of our wings: Delaware, NatCap, and Maryland. Using the “train like we fight” model, each wing took the lead for a week of multiple simulated events— search and rescue, disaster relief, missing person, aerial and ground photography, and more. Lt. Col. Eric Fryar, Detachment 2 CAP-USAF commander, and his team were very impressed with what they saw. He said, “All wings worked well with each other and were extremely supportive of each other. Very impressive.” The final report is still being worked on but all three wings did a great job, and he anticipates high ratings for all three. These evals are complex, with a lot of moving parts and are purposely designed to stretch a wing past the breaking point so they have to reach out for assistance.
In the final evaluation, the teams had to handle a series of simulated scenarios including the removal of the incident commander by the evaluation team, a missing person search, a missing aircraft search, a distraught family member of the missing person (chaplain inject), a ground team member who returned to the incident command post (ICP) due to personal issues/stress (Critical Incident Stress Management inject), the local press intruding in the ICP, and finally a fire that required the ICP staff to set up/move to their mobile command system. They did this within five minutes and were ready to rock. Thank you to all our Airmen for not only working these missions but for your years of training preparing to be ready to execute.
MER Staff Changes
The MER announced several staff changes this past month. They include: MER Chaplain: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Wayne Byerly; MER Director of Public Affairs: Maj. Julie Holley; MER School-Based Program Advisor: Maj. Donna Blaney; and MER Director of Cyber Programs: Lt. Col. William Sydow. Chap (Lt. Col.) Greg Hill has done a great job as the MER Chaplain for almost two years. He will remain on the region staff as an assistant Chaplain. Maj. Brenda Reed, the former MER/PA, has taken on the position of Maryland Wing Chief of Staff. Please join me in thanking both of them for their outstanding service. The other two staff assignments are new positions for the region. They are part of our strategic plan to implement CAP’s overall strategic plan for the future. Both Maj. Blaney and Lt. Col. Sydow are resources for your wings and squadrons to assist you in developing programs in their areas of expertise. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help.
North Carolina Wing Change of Command
I had the honor of officiating at the North Carolina Wing change of command on June 25th. Col. Dave Crawford completed his full four-year term, and the wing is in excellent shape. In fact, the national commander presented the wing with a Unit Citation for the exemplary efforts and success they have had over the last four years. Col. Crawford also received the Distinguished Service Award for his leadership in making the wing one of the best in the nation. Col. Jason Bailey, the former wing vice commander took over the reins at the ceremony which occurred following the pass in review for the summer encampment. We were joined at the ceremony by several former NC wing commanders including Col. Roy Douglass and Col. Larry Ragland, who is the national executive officer, as well as the Chairman of the CAP Board of Governors, Col. Jayson Altieri. Please thank Col. Crawford for his service and congratulate Col. Bailey on his new command.
Online Offering for TLC
The Maryland Wing’s e-Learning Team is offering an online Training Leaders of Cadets (TLC). This online version is designed to assist those unable to attend the classroom versions due to work, family, or other conflicting responsibilities. The course will run for six weeks from August 1 through September 10. Participants should expect to spend at least two-hours per week reading the material, participating in discussions with classmates, and completing assignments for a minimum of 12 hours over the six-week TLC period. The course will be administered through CourseSites, a learning management system hosted by Blackboard. All discussions will be asynchronous so participants can log in and add to the discussion at any time and from any location. For more information and to sign up go Visit the course page to learn more and to sign up.
CAP Active During West Virginia Flood Recovery
This past week, the West Virginia Wing, at the start of their encampment, responded to a request for help from the state of West Virginia to assist in search and rescue operations following the massive flooding in the state. The wing provided three aircraft and crews along with incident command staff at the state’s emergency operations center. The two day SAR mission is anticipated to evolve into disaster assessment missions as the waters subside.
FEMA and the state have requested our help in damage assessment, and crews and staff are working that mission as you read this. As of today we have flown six days of missions for the state. Lt Col Jim Dodrill, WVWG/CV and one of the incident commanders working the mission received this short note yesterday from the West Virginia National Guard’s Joint Operations Center (JOC) in response to a note he sent them to let them know about our sorties planned for tomorrow. “Fantastic. Looking forward to more great imagery. You guys are making a big impact on ops across the spectrum. Thank you.” Great job West Virginia!
Inspiring Air Force Officer Retires
This past month Gen. Mark Welsh III, the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, stepped down and retired from active duty. He has been a big supporter of CAP and a part of bringing us officially into the Total Force. He is also one of the most inspiring leaders you will ever know. Even before he became the Chief of Staff, the top job in the uniformed Air Force, he was well known for his inspirational leadership. He gave one of his most well-known speeches to the cadets at the Air Force Academy on Nov 1, 2011. I have shared this speech with many cadets and officers alike and whenever I need a little inspiration I watch it. View it here.
I hope to see many of you in August at the National Conference in Nashville. As always, don’t be shy and please introduce yourself if you see me. Thank you for all that you do to serve our nation.
Thank you for all that you do.
Col John M. Knowles, CAP
Middle East Region Commander
FEMA LNO to the NRCC