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November 06, 2006


Jim Quinn

I believe that rather than "paint over" our involvement, we should ensure that all our aircraft PROUDLY display the military insignia and make full presence be known for PR purposes in this mission.

It's strange how we become military when it's convenient to the military but civilian when it isn't. PCA is a tough hurdle to patrolling the border. Could it be that we're on a "lifesaving mission" rather than a "military/law enforcement mission"?

Let's not make any bones about it--I for one am all behind dispatching us as a military mission to patrol the borders and nothing less. If the National Guard is down there, we should be there to help in a similar fashion. What's the difference?

We should be housed at military facilities and have dining privileges, and landing rights at any military base while we're on this mission, in my own humble opinion. And we shouldn't have to fund it out of our own pockets for reimbursement later. If our government can hand out $2000 debit cards to Katrina victims without even getting proof that they even WERE, in fact, VICTIMS, then for God's sake they ought to be able to trust us enough to have government credit cards/debit cards for this mission to pay for fuel, meals and lodging if we cannot get to an Air Force or other military landing facility.

(Bitch Switch now off....)

Just my two cents' worth, and that's probably what it IS worth....



Let me amplify the remarks in Col Hodgkins article. He is right when he says that CAP is covered by PCA when operating as the AF auxiliary. Remember CAP is a dual status entity like the National Guard. The Guard has a Title 10 military status as well as a Title 32 milita/civil support status. CAP has a Title 10 military status as a Air Force auxiliary under Title 10 USC 9442(a)"when the services of the Civil Air Patrol are used by any department or agency in any branch of the Federal Government." CAP also has a Title 36 USC 40302(4) status " assist in meeting local and national emergencies."

PCA (as a statute) only applies when we are operating in our Title 10 status. It does not apply when we are in our Title 36 status. The US Attorney General recently issued a legal opinion that would support this conclusion, albeit not specifically identifying CAP. See 22 U.S. Op. Off. Legal Counsel 103, 1998 WL 1751079 (O.L.C.)

So it would appear that CAP could provide direct assistance to local law enforcement such as in Amber Alert situations under our Title 36 USC 40302(4) unless CAP regulations prohibit it. And this is the problem.

CAPR 900-3E.3 allows CAP to provide "passive" assistance to law enforcement. Is searching for a particular vehicle in an Amber Alert situation "passive" assistance? You tell me. My opinion is that it is and I would so advise my Wing Commander. However some may argue otherwise. CAPR 900-3E.3 should be sharpened to allow for this type of very important aerial missions.

But who pays for the Title 36 missions? Obviously not the federal government or you will buy back into PCA. These must be state paid missions.

Last, there is a question regarding USAFAux and USAF Uniforms when CAP is performing a Title 36 mission that would otherwise involve PCA. This is where I respectfully disagree with Col Hodgkins. CAP's aircraft is not purchased with AF money. They have been purchased with funds appropriated to CAP by the US Congress. USAF may have assumed oversight responsibility regarding the funding, but it is not the funding source. Funding comes in the form of an omnibus funding bill specifically earmarked for CAP. However if USAF is uncomfortable seeing the "USAF" portion of the "Aux" on the aircraft tail, when the air craft is done PCA work, it should probably be taken off. What about the uniform? That issue is much more complicted because it directly implicates the National Guard. National Guard wears USAF or US Army name tapes when performing its Title 32 missions which may also include PCA missions. To require CAP to not wear an air force "style" uniform (even though USAF does not appear anywhere) would not be genuine and inconsistent with the Air Force and Army uniform policies regarding National Guard.

To conclude. For all out there who believe we are always the USAF Auxiliary, we are not. Congress changed that on October 30, 2000 when Title 10 USC 9441 and 9442 were amended. Prior to that Title 10 USC 9441(a)simply stated: "The Civil Air Patrol is a volunter civilian auxiliary of the Air Force."

If you want it changed to the way it was you'll have to talk to your Congressman. However I would be cautions. Our present dual status existence gives us a lot of mission flexibility. Some would day that we have the best of both worlds.

Nick Critelli, JD


I'm not sure I like Col Hodgkins' statements on the utility of PCA in general. However, his interpretation of its application to CAP is spot on.

However, I would pose that title 10 assets (CAP) can in fact operate for border DEFENSE purposes. It is perfectly legal for CAP to patrol the border searching for terrorists attempting to enter the US for the purpose of military action. Just like it would be perfectly legal to fly an F16 thru there making sure Mexican tanks (do they actually have tanks) don't invade Arizona. It would then be perfectly legal for CAP to notify federal authorities & guide them onto targets in order to ensure they are not in fact terrorists. At the point of intercept CAP can leave, & if it instead turns out to be a violation of immigration law then that is a law enforcement matter which CAP is not involved in - we're out of the airspace by that point.

The second point I'd raise is that there is a specific exception to the PCA for military assistance to LE on anti-drug missions. This is how CAP is able to fly customs/DEA missions, including by the way flights on the border to report suspicious activity so federal LE authorities can determine if it is drug related. Guiding them to these targets is in no way legally different than radioing the location & departing the area.

What we're talking about there is the equivalent of airborne neighborhood watch. When you look out the window & see someone breaking into your neighbor's house, you are obligated to report it, and by calling 911 & doing so you have not participated in LE. If you are still on the line when the police arrive & tell the dispatcher you saw them go in the back window. You still have not participated in Law Enforcement. If the suspect flees the house & you tackle them on your front lawn THEN you've participated in LE & that's what CAP can't do. For instance, you can't direct the border patrol agents onto the target & then remain in the area for communications support after it has been determined to be a LE matter.

If you really want to get around the PCA, the National Guard is down there on a state mission doing support to LE & being reimbursed by the federal govt. It would be perfectly legal to deploy CAP on a corporate mission number under jurisdiction of the national guard, relaying reports thru national guard to border patrol, & have those costs paid by states reimbursed by the federal govt. If you're going to do that though, I'd call Iowa and ask for some help getting my state to pass some similar laws that mirror federal protections on AFAMs & grant employment protection while you're at it.



Planes and such are purchased w/ money appropriated by congress for that purpose IN THE AF BUDGET. The request for funds does go to AF & they make it to congress, not CAP.

The present dual status flexibility you speak of has not materialized, but increased liability & accounablity concerns have. There are several key congressional figures that were involved in the 2000 changes that now view them as a mistake. I don't know that they'll be reversed out of hand, but I'd anticipate further alteration in the next couple years. The PCA issue is on the table for clarification as well, as is the issue of liability protection for volunteer medical workers. We'll get ya a bill, but it's going to take some time.


Back in my "Green-suit" days, the issue of using Army military police troops on the Southern border was being discussed in military and political circles, and I wrote a letter to Military Review addressing the same issue that the Colonel addressed. The PCA should be repealed or amended to permit military operations along the border. This could be done in a number of ways that would retain the PCA's protection against general use of the military in police operations, but specificly the one that was my favorite was to establish a "Border Defense Zone" going 20 or so miles into our country from the border, but excluding border cities. In that area, the military could function in support of police agencies without consideration of the PCA.

Congress HAS to act on this. Military officers should not be made to feel that their operations are conducted by using a "Loophole" in the law. Using loopholes is how Enron executives did business. We are military officers who place a high value on integrity and respect for government institutions.

Congress changing the PCA is nothing more than giving us the tools to do the mission that they want us to do.


Certainly Congress needs to revisit PCA and it will do so soon. But what if it does. As I see it the real issue is if Congress does change the law can CAP do the missions.

The professionalism of our units is extremely variable across the nation. Some are nothing more than clubs and their members "cowboys" while others are extremely well trained, disciplined and professional.

Friends, it has nothing to do with who's running the organization at the top and everything to do with who is in your Wing leadership. Operations, training, readiness and preparedness occur at a level well below NHQ.

How would you like to be in Hodgkins position. We've got to be driving him nuts.
His people are used to military discipline, precision and protocol. Along comes CAP with all our bickering, sloppiness, etc. Read any SAV and look at the observations, findings, etc. Deadlines? In CAP deadlines can mean "when I get around to it."
PCA, law enforcement missions...not until we get our house in order and that needs to start at the bottom and work its way up, not the other way 'round.

Just my view.

Nick Critelli



I'm not arguing with you, but there are "Fixes" to the condition you describe.

When a Guard or Reserve unit is mobilized, there is a period called "Mobilization Station Training." during which the unit re-qualifies with its weapons, is trained up in the unique requirements of the deployment theater, and trains to the active-duty standard before it is released for deployment. Some units accomplish this in short order, some have to re-try certain tasks.

For the duty described, I would set up a school somewhere, on an airport, and train up the members in the specific flight profiles, comm nets, rules of engagement, environmental survival issues, whatever. I'd issue survival vests as organizational property, (Turn them in after landing and before debriefing), and THEN I'd put these guys out to fly. Done right, with smart guys, you could probably train them up to standard in three days.

Most CAP members whould come out for a week or so, then get back to their real jobs. So we can't waste their volunteer time. Once trained and certified, they would not need to repeat the training if they leave and return some time later, but I would think it prudent to give them a 1-day acclimitization and re-training day upon returning after a "Work break."

Nick... we CAN do this. And it isn't just my old Army "Can-Do" attitude popping up. CAP did this same mission in World War II. To say we can't do now that which we did before, when we now have better and safer airplanes, is to say that we are no longer worthy of the combat heritage of our force.



You're preaching to the choir. I'm from the Iowa Wing.



And from the choir comes a hearty AMEN!


Hoora Iowa. You proved that the reformation of CAP starts at home not at Maxwell. Everybody complains about Maxwell or Pineda. If they'd take all that energy and fix their own units things would be much better for CAP.


Flags, I agree with you, but a lot of times it's maxwell preventing change they don't like also. Just look how fast region & Wg CCs get replaced. We can go maverick & create our own little version of CAP the way it should be, and that's fine if it's what we have to do, but it really would be good to fix the systemic problems decisively.


Who cares how many times they change the national VC or region CC. It really doesn't have that much affect on my unit. I don't see them next to me on a mission but I do see the other guys in my group. I don't see them training our new members or meeting with my county coordinator. I could care less what the gods Olympus do, we've got missions to do down on the ground.


Wg/Reg CCs control everything we do standards, training, reporting requirements & proceedures, training dollars. Changing them also has a ripple effect that would change 1/2 to 2/3rds of the Sq/Gp CCs in my wing & that of course changes Sq staff & that effects Sq membership. All this is much more dramatic when you're replacing leaders for cause with people that will drive the org in one direction or another.

That's w/o mentioning that the only missions we have or ever will have are entirely dependent on the relationships built & maintained by folks in those command slots.

It's juvenile & irresponsible to think that the top doesn't effect you or that you have no responsibility to try & effect change. You see that position paper at the top there by Col Hodgkins? What business do you think he has telling congress what the law should be? Yet you see him, a career professional senior officer, advocating for change he sees as needed, and doing so in a place that designed to generate discussion by the hard thinking parts of the AF. You can put on a set of blinders & behave like a grunt, or you can officer up & see your duty.


Don't we have a Congressional Squadron? Isn't it time for them to "Fly a mission" for us?



I understand you may think my view "juvenile & irresponsible" but the fact is that other than the cloths I am required to wear, the "top" really doesn't affect me. I've lived through several national commanders, each with their own agenda and the only change the makes it way down to the trench is uniform changes and paperwork. I've never seen money flow down stream or help. All I've ever seen is more stick and less carrot.



I'm not calling you juvenile or irresponsible. I'm trying to emphasize that acting like sheep down at the bottom is what enables the people at the top to do what they do.

Where planes get assigned, where SaRExs are held, what crews fly on real or practice missions, how many of those practice missions are authorized in your area, how much money CAP gets for planes, how many planes we're allowed to have, how much we get for operations, training, & maint, how many & where radios get assigned, how much & what kind of reporting you have to do, what goals/standards you're asked to meet or be replaced in your job... all that flows from at very least who your Wg CC is & these days that means who marches in lock step w/ the Nat CC's agenda, whatever that is.

Even if none of that effects you personally or even by some stretch your unit or the other units around you, it does effect CAP as a whole. If you don't stand up & ask hard questions that force our leaders to do teh right things & play straight with us, then who will? It's easy to for any of us to say we'll keep our heads low, focus on what's in front of us, & hope someone else fixes the bog problems some day before they go up in smoke, but that just create a culture that says everyone should do that. As an officer you're a leader, and your number one job is to lead the way setting an example for others to follow & showing no fear or hesitation just because the problem is bigger than you. You second job is to live by core values & cause everyone around you to do the same, and that includes your leaders. I don't want people hiding in local units thinking they can ignore this stuff. That'd be one thing if you wore your grade on your sleeve symbolic of the muscles doing the job they're ordered to do, but you're an officer & you have to be one even when it's hard.

That's what I meant, and sorry it was a general message more than directed at you.



I agree that we have a responsibility to keep informed regarding the leadership of our organization at the very top. But when it comes to making a real change in CAP I it first has to be done at the bottom.



I'm not saying that's wrong, but what changes if you run a superb Sq? You have Sqs all over the country reinventing the wheel & going outside regs & standardized training to do their own thing (what they think is best). You're ultimate objective has to be to get other units to copy what you've done and start a grassroots campaign, but it doesn't work cause we're all off in our own little worlds. We got one wing over here saying all our members need to get qual'd in CERT, one over there using Sartech for GTLs, one back there making their own stuff up, Hawk mountain thinkin they don't stink & the world must bend to them... then the rest of the world out there being NIMS compliant & CAP complaining about not getting in the game.

If you want synergy, you have to get things together standardized, organized, and operating with support structures. That necessitates it coming from the top down. We might can do some good in our county or even state, but the rest of CAP can go to hell in a handbasket while we're slaving away doing our part. I certianly drive hard locally, but ultimately it's futile unless & until something comes together natioanlly to get our collective act together & get of AF standard time.

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