CIVIL AIR PATROL
Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,100 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 107 lives last year. CAP’s 56,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to over 23,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. One of the premier public service organizations in America, CAP benefits the nation with an estimated economic impact of $209 million annually.
National Headquarters (NHQ) administers the day‐to‐day operations of Civil Air Patrol, providing direction and support to field units to ensure the safe and effective execution of CAP’s missions. It consists of the National Commander, who also serves as the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, the National Staff, and NHQ‐chartered units activated as directed by the National Commander.
CAP is divided, geographically, into eight separate regions within the United States. Each region is known by the geographical locale of the United States it encompasses. A region is comprised of the region headquarters and all units within its geographical boundary unless otherwise prescribed. The region commander retains command authority and responsibility for all units and their assigned members within the region.
There are 52 wings in CAP, one for each state, the District of Columbia (which encompasses the Washington, D.C. area), and Puerto Rico (which encompasses the U.S. Virgin Islands). A wing is comprised of the wing headquarters and all units within its geographical boundary unless otherwise prescribed.
The group echelon exists to improve the wing’s mission effectiveness. Wing commanders may form groups when the wing geographical area, structure, or the number of units in the wing is too large to permit effective supervision directly over squadrons and flights. A Group should have a minimum of five squadrons under its control unless the Wing Commander determined otherwise due to geography, demographics or functional structure.
The squadron is the community‐level organization of CAP. Squadrons are charged with recruiting individuals to accomplish CAP’s missions, ensuring those members are trained and developed to accomplish those missions, and stewarding CAP resources to prepare for use in CAP’s missions. The designation of each squadron will indicate whether it is a:
Senior Squadron. Comprised entirely of senior members.
Cadet Squadron. Comprised primarily of cadets, Cadet squadrons may be established as traditional community‐based units or school‐based units. Both use the same curriculum, operate in accordance with CAP regulations, and fall under the traditional chain of command.
Traditional community‐based unit - Operate as out‐of‐school programs and depend on the community at large to support them.
School‐based unit - Formally affiliated with a public or private school. These units may meet during the school day as a class or afterschool in the same manner as other school‐sponsored clubs.
Composite Squadron. Comprised of both senior and cadet members, conducting both senior and cadet programs.
The flight is the smallest CAP membership unit authorized and must conform to minimum membership requirements. Flights are encouraged in sparsely populated areas where there are an insufficient number of individuals to constitute a squadron. A flight may be a separately chartered unit or assigned either to a squadron or group.