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« SciFi and the Air Force | Main | Press Reports CAP Border Mission to Start Next Month »

August 05, 2006



The General's comments were well said, and clearly on point. Posse Commitatus and overall command and control of air assets are the two big "War stoppers" for our involvement in this mission.

Major Carrales

Posse Commitatus seems to enter into the mix, in my opinion, if our stated mission is to preform Border Patrol operations in a law enforcement capacity. It seems likely that this would also be so if these missions were Air Force Assigned.

Now, I am going to "run this up the flag pole" and it is based on a somewhat incomplete understanding of the BIG PICUTRE. I expect to be corrected and guided...

If the FEDERAL or a STATE GOVERNMENT contacted the CORPORATE SIDE of CAP via the NOC and if they paid for these flights sans the USAF...would Posse Commitatus apply?

Also, if the mission is to save lives as opposed to making arrests. Would that be more of a ES fucntion than a Law Enforcement one?

Lastly, does this sort of testimony imply that their could be a foundation for Congressional action en re CAP for HLS functions?

I don't want to play "CAP lawyer" but I find I have these issues as legitiamte questions?


Also, if the mission is to save lives as opposed to making arrests. Would that be more of a ES fucntion than a Law Enforcement one?

I think that's the key here... the Air Force tasked CAP to peform search and rescue operations to locate "immigrants in distress". So, you locate an "immigrant in distress", dispatch emergency response personnel to assist them, they get whatever medical treatment they need, then the Border Patrol comes in afterwards and deals with them.

On a side note, I have a caption for what that Navy guy with the dirty look is thinking in his mind -- "What's up with that double-breasted Air Force uniform?" I mean hell, he's wearing two metal stars and US lapel insignia on a blue uniform, he must be Air Force right? :)


Marginally off-topic, but I think it's interesting that the Army, Navy, and Border Patrol types are wearing duty-type uniforms, and our CC comes in wearing the Corporate Party Suit.

I'm trying to be the CAP/CC in front of his closet that morning. "I need something corporate, but still fancy. I don't want to look like I'm under the thumb of the Air Force with those gray epaulets. What should I wear?" I can only imagine that the uniform of the day prior to development of the Faux-AF-Suit would've been the blazer combination. I'm pretty sure the blazer combo wouldn't suit the "image" the CC was going for.

Not that I expect our leaders to show up in BDUs or anything (as that would be against our regs in DC), but wow -- I can imagine the fierce double-takes from the actual flag-rank types in that room.

According to the source, the officer looking at General Pineda is "Col. Ben Hancock, Commanding Officer of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma"

On another note, here's more news coverage of the hearing:

Major Carrales

Must it always come down to uniforms?

In anycase, I think it is the definitions in the mission's language that is key to it all.

If the mission is blatantly "recon for Illegals crossing the frontier..." that could be argued to be a "clearly law enforcement/military mission." (take your pic)

If it is a rescue people in disress with no functions of arrest. It seems posse comitatus would not apply.

Then we are caught in the "war or words."

Is CAP a military organization, or not? It seems that there is a fenceline drawn where people tend to balance.

If it fits one person's goal, CAP is not a military organization. Like in the wear of uniforms(sic) or other such issues. However, to another person (such as with the posse comitatus issue) CAP is some sort of military organization. How then would posse comitatus apply?

One can only speculate why this is so?

I will say may be time for the USAF and CAP to better redefine CAP into a more concrete role as an organization.

It would greatly help those of us in the field to know the rules by which we can operate...we cannot do that if the nature our participance keeps changing or is not concrete.

Jim Quinn

Well, it's time for my renewal again, and again--I've been struggling to find a reason WHY. Every year it gets harder and harder to justify spending so much time and so much hard-earned money with an organization that continues to bombard us with increased regulation, increased training requirements, increased harrassment from Above, new uniform regs and requirements and LESS MONEY.

No, this isn't really off-topic at all. I've determined that CAP is a military unit when it's convenient for the Air Force to call us their Auxiliary, and a civilian/corporate entity when it's not convenient for the Air Force. And if it involves corporate lawyers, the ball could fall on either side of the net. It's not decided by the mission, necessarily, but rather by the convenience (or inconvenience) of the Air Force and/or CAP HQ.

Is DHS (Department of Homeland Security) actually a military command, or is it law enforcement? Flip a coin.

If I do not renew, I will certainly miss the comraderie of my colleagues, though budget cuts have precluded us from conducting anything but short-lived distributed SAREXes, unlike the days when we could look forward to a few weekends a year when we really DID participate in realistic search and rescue exercises at a central search base and renew friendships and professional relationships on a regular basis. Hells bells, most of the time with exercises conducted these days, they cut the sorties short because we run out of money long before we get everybody airborne to complete their training requirements. And let's not even talk about the lack of CD missions the last few years, or the support to ICE operations. Yet we're hammered more and more with extended training requirements and other BS from Above that just frustrate the pure devil out of a lot of folks.

This isn't the Civil GROUND Patrol, though ground units are an important facet of our operations in many states and we couldn't operate without them. But with the budget cuts and the fewer flight hours and fewer mission and training opportunities for aircrews, I see a mass bailout coming down the pike if things don't change quickly. It's just not as much fun these days.

Look at all the opportunities that CAP has had in recent months to participate in DHS missions along the border, just as we used to do years ago. Are we doing much border/seacoast patrol? Not that I know of. Why aren't we being used for missions we've trained for? Let's face it--we aren't used unless someone at the top can get the glory. If there's no glory in it, there's no money in it. We just aren't asked to do such missions any longer, and volunteers thrive on activity. Take away the activity, and the volunteers go on to new arenas, such as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and other disaster relief agencies.

It would seem to me that we should have been used for months along the border with Mexico. With the drug trafficing and massive assault on our borders by ILLEGAL border crossers, smugglers, and the Mexican gangs and military (Is there a difference?), it would make sense that our fleet should be used to provide eyes in the sky for Border Patrol and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers. Oops. That's law enforcement. No, wait! It's Homeland Security. But wait! Homeland Security is military, isn't it? No, wait! Maybe! Who knows? But wait! Isn't the National Guard military? They're on the border! But isn't that law enforcement, or is it Homeland Security? God, please help someone at the top. Anyone at the top.

Interestingly enough, I got an email August 1st from CAP HQ that stated my membership would soon expire on 6/30/06. Try that for a head-scratcher.

Is it any wonder that Supreme Allied Headquarters at Maxwell say we have a retention problem? Retention problem? It's not a problem, it's an epidemic. It's time for the guys at the top to do what I suggested last year about this time: GO VISIT LOCAL UNITS! Talk to members on a squadron level! Find out WHY they don't renew! Or just read this blog.....

Just my .02--just about what it's worth.

Jim Quinn


Back in the 1970's, when I was both a rookie cop and a college student simultaneously, I asked a question of one of my Constitutional Law professors that is applicable here:

"If there are a series of court decisions on searches by police, and they are decided by 5-4 votes on the Supreme Court, doesn't that mean that the Justices of the highest court in the land cannot all agree on an issue?"

"So, how is a policeman supposed to know what decision to make when the 9 Justices can't agree on what the law is?"

Both Joe and Jim have cited some serious questions with respect to the Posse Commitatus Act. I have done some reading on it myself, and, believe it or not, the subject of CAP has been addressed by the Attorney General in an opinion letter to the President.

His opinion was that CAP is NOT covered by the PCA when detailed by the USAF to support DHS. His opinion was supported by some rather twisted logic, however.

According to the AG, the PC Act covers the armed forces, but does NOT address military auxiliaries. Therefore, the armed forces are acting within the law to detail their auxiliaries to a law enforcement mission, if that mission is within the normal capability of the auxiliary.

He did not address the fact that military auxiliaries did not exist in the world where the PC Act was written and passed. It is apparent, however, that status as an "Auxiliary" means that the unit is not a part of the regular armed forces of the United States, and therefore not governed by the PCA.

CAP's attorneys argue along the lines of Joe's point. That we are not the USAF Aux all the time. That we can be somebody else's Aux when the Air Force lets us do so, and that when another agency pays the freight, we would fall under their rules. In other words, if we work for the Border Patrol, and the Border Patrol is paying for our gas, we are an integral part of the Border Patrol, at least on a de facto basis.

TP was absolutely right in bringing this problem to the attention of the legislative body that created it. They can fix it if they want to.

What I am NOT comfortable with is flying missions based on a "Loophole" in the law; calling the border patrol mission a "Rescue" to evade the provisions of the PC Act. That's what gangsters and dope-dealers do. CAP is not a gang, and I am a military officer, not an Enron executive.


Also... I'm not certain what that sidelong glance from the Marine colonel implies. I also wonder about the Army. Back in the 80's when I went to the Pentagon for briefings, I would not have worn any uniform other than the Army class A green.
Testifying before Congress in a fatigue uniform is, in my humble (but field grade) opinion, very bad form.

Midway Six


I think people are reading too much into the look on the Marine's face too.

But seriously... Do you consider the entire CAP Counter Drug program operating under a, "loophole?"

I think...


It seems pretty simple to me. But I'm just a airplane driver, not a lawyer.

Major Carrales

Excellent points, John. I wish you had been able to ask these questions of the Big Wigs at the event you went to a fewm onths back.

In anycase, I know such big wigs read this Blog and may answer the question through other channels.

As for the Marine Col and his expression. A "still shot" does not yeild enough evidence. To assume it is about the uniform is a bit presumptuous. I would need three things to begin to ascertain what that Marine is up to...

1) The audio, if it is a reaction to that the Major General is saying the biofeedback will be evident.

2) The motion, for all you know that Marine was merely shifting in his seat

3) A transcript from the Marine's mental "in flight brain recorder."

Honestly, can anyone ever really be sure what a person is thinking at any given time? O'Brien would be proud.

Major Carrales

Midway 6 says...


I agree. What is good for the goose is good for the

Major Carrales

John Kach say...

"Testifying before Congress in a fatigue uniform is, in my humble (but field grade) opinion, very bad form."

You should see what people are wearing to Church these days?!

This is nothing more than the "Dress Down/Casual Friday" mentality. You should see the comments I get when I wore the short/long sleeve CAP shirt combo to a classroom BCUT.

Word got back to me that..."All he does is show up in blues!"

Sorry, I don't see BDUs a suitable combo for the classroom (and that is because I am a teacher and COMBAT is sometimes necessary...that's a joke)

Now, SARex and REDCAP or work at the Hangar is a different story. Even the PAO/IO shows up to a SAR with BDUs. One might have a set of blues present to a change if there is some sort of briefing or media PRESS CONFERENCE where one might need to display a more formal appearance.

I, usually, wear BDUs to SAR activities in the event that my tasked duty is changed. Like when I was tasked to take out a ground team...the BDUs worked nicely. Blues would have looked a bit like "MacArthur taking the point."


If I were in the field, I would give the press briefing in a field uniform. If the Congresscritters came out to the field, they would see me in a field uniform.

If I had to go see a government official in a government office, I would wear a dress uniform, either class A or B with decorations, depending on the reason for the visit. If I had to come to the office directly from the field, I would apologize for my appearance at the start of our meeting, and explain that the necessities of duty required me to wear a field uniform.



Good thought, but have you EVER known any matter under control of lawyers to be that simple?

Major Carrales


Your wisdom en re field and dress uniforms is beyond question.

Now...what have you to say for those that only own a "zoom bag?" Or those that would teestify before Congress in a GOLF SHIRT? to the simplicity of "No UCMJ = No PCA," you may be correct. DO you think they are hoping for a "case-by-case" situation?


As far as LTG Blum's uniform is concerned. the US Army has designated the ACU/BDU as the Army's Duty Uniform.

It's all about the warrior philosophy. The Army is fighting a war and Gen Schoonmaker ordered that the army reflect this. If you watch pentagon briefings involving the army they are mostly done by generals in the ACU.

I saw a briefing last week where LTG Blum was presenting with the chief of the Border Patrol at the Pentagon and he was in the ACU. Same with the Chief of Staff the previous week.

However when Gen Casey testified with Rumsfeld to the Senate he was in Class A Greens.

So I guess that applies everywhere except the Capital and White House.

Everywhere I see soldiers it is in the ir ACU's or BDU's. Even recruiters now wear the ACU as their duty uniform.

I believe that the CSAF issued the same instructions to Airmen recently. But I can't find the source/cite.

But as far as Maj Gen Pineda's testimony goes he is right on track and this kind of outreach needs to be job 1 no matter what uniform he is wearing.

Kind of off topic here but I was working a SAREX this weekend and served as IO. I wore the Blue BDU's figuring I would be out on the flight line and in the office and everywhere in-between. My uniform was correct with shined boots so I would give a favorable impression on DV's and the media.

It was frustrating to see so many different uniforms. Base staff wearing the aviator shirt/polo shirt combo, Ground teams wearing BDU's and pilots in the bag or polo shirts. Can't we just wear one type of uniform in the field? Grrrr.....


I know that under the new uniform rules for the Army that the ACU is the basic duty uniform regardless of assignment. It is replacing BOTH the BDU and the Army Green B.

The Army Green A is being replaced by the Army Blue, which was formerly just an "After 6" uniform.

But still, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think when addressing government dignitaries, one should express respect for the institution by wearing the uniform that would be the equal of the civilian business suit.

The AF allows the green bag as a duty uniform, but CAP does not.I would have no problems substituting the green bag for the BDU if I were assigned to a flight crew. I still wouldn't wear one to testify before a Congressional committee, though.

I think TP had the correct uniform, and, at least as far as the written statement I read, correctly and precisely addressed the issue of CAP on border patrol duty. There are other, lesser issues that might arise, but the important ones, the ones that need a legislative fix, were brought to their attention.

But... I thought the TPU had GRAY epaulets. Are the epaulets blue on all of the TPU's or just on the ones for generals?

Lamh Dearg

John, No slides at all for the epaulets on the "TPU". That's metal grade on the epaulets of the jacket. No gray anywhere with the new corporate uniform option. The epaulet slides for the aviator shirt are the USAF blue ones with ones appropriate grade.


Hi John,

I agree with you. The service uniforms are what should be worn when interacting with the public especially government officials.

Now as to a CAP duty uniform, it should be what it is now s/s blues or aviator combo.

Keep it simple.


Can someone PLEASE explain to me why everyone is getting up in a tizzy about Pineda's uniform, or am I misinterpreting something? The uniform looks good, especially since he didn't have to wear the gray slides,



I'm sorry if you got the impression that we were in a "Tizzy" over the general's uniform. Some of us don't particularly care for the TPU, but he did look sharp and professional in it, and that's what counts. Also, his comments to the Congresscritters were right on point.

My ONLY objection to the TPU is that it looks more Navy than Air Force. I'll admit though, I've never seen it in person, only in pix on the net.


There has been a lot of talk about the PCA on this blog. Let me shed a little light so that everyone understands what is being discussed. While some have made reference to an AG's opinion written at the request of CAP, any lawyer will tell you that such an opinion has very little value in the face of mandatory case law from the Supreme Court--which we have in this case. Back in the late 70's or early 80's, Air Force SP's were pulling people over outside Homestead AFB on a road that abutted the base for speeding. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court (if you can believe that someone went that far to challenge a speeding ticket)and the court said that any agency funded by the DoD and organized under Title 10 (b/c only the Army and Navy exist under the Constitution) are subject to the PCA. Thus, someone wanting to challenge CAP action could have a very good argument that such action violates PC as CAP is funded through DoD and organized under Title 10.


See... I TOLD you it wasn't simple!

Looking at 10 USC, Chapter 807, Section 8062 (d)(3):

The Air Force consists of:

...all Air Force units and other Air Force organizations, with their installations and supporting and AUXILIARY combat, training, administrative, and logistic elements...

(Emphasis mine)

Taking the USSC court decision into account, and considering the text of Title 10, it would appear that the Attorney General may be mistaken on a point of law.

Stuff like this is why I never went to law school. For an old street cop like me, going to law school is the moral equivalent of a Jedi going over to the Dark Side!


>> As far as LTG Blum's uniform is
>> concerned. the US Army has designated
>> the ACU/BDU as the Army's Duty Uniform.

Same for the Air Force, including those in the Air Force District of Washingtion.

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