Civil Air Patrol Joins Air Force Total Force

posted Sep 24, 2015, 3:18 PM by Scott Kammeyer

Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, has joined the Total Force. CAP has supported the Air Force through emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs for 74 years, but for the first time, the auxiliary’s members are included in the Air Force’s description of total force and Airmen.

Historically, the term “Airmen” referred to uniformed and civilian members of the U.S. Air Force’s regular, Reserve, or Guard components. The term now includes Civil Air Patrol volunteers when conducting missions as the Air Force Auxiliary.
Under the new doctrine, Air Force leaders should consider each part of the total force, including the auxiliary, when determining the most effective and efficient way to complete the mission. Civil Air Patrol has approximately 57,000 volunteers and 550 aircraft assigned to more than 1500 units across the country. Many of these units currently support non-combat missions on behalf of the Air Force.

“As a strategic partner, these unpaid professionals have boldly served our nation saving the Air Force almost 40 times the cost of using military assets for each hour served,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “Inclusion in the total force reflects the continuing key contributions of this highly trained and equipped organization.”

Auxiliary members fly nearly 100,000 hours per year performing disaster relief, counterdrug, search and rescue, fighter interceptor training, aerial observation and cadet orientation flights.

“Civil Air Patrol enjoys a proud legacy of selfless sacrifice and service to country and community that spans decades,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Vazquez, the CAP national commander. “Our ability to augment the Air Force is second to none. We provide 85 percent of inland search and rescue missions and disaster-relief support to local, state and national agencies as well as aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, and remain continually postured to offer more.”

Beyond CAP’s support to achieve its homeland responsibilities for non-combat operations, the organization has been recognized for their efforts to inspire hundreds of thousands of cadets and K-12 students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and training.

“Civil Air Patrol’s increased exposure has a direct impact on attracting youth interest in STEM-based activities which are skills necessary to develop the innovative Airmen our Air Force needs,” said Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III. “We proudly welcome the Air Force auxiliary by extending our badge of honor as Airmen.”

Locally Civil Air Patrol squadrons across the Florida Panhandle support Air Force missions almost daily through low level route surveys, counterdrug missions, fire watch missions, as well as providing orientation flights for AFROTC and AFJROTC cadets, for teachers of STEM-based classes, and of course, for CAP cadets. They also perform search and rescue and disaster relief missions when called up on.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit volunteer organization with 58,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs. Performing missions for America for the past 73 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.