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Civil Air Patrol joins total force ‘Airmen’

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- When conducting missions for the Air Force as the official Air Force auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol is now included in the Air Force’s definition of the total force. CAP has provided 74 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

In August 2015, the Air Force updated Doctrine Volume 2, “Leadership,” expanding the Air Force’s descriptions of total force and Airmen to now consist of regular, Guard, Reserve, civilian and auxiliary members.

Historically, the broader term Airmen referred to uniformed and civilian members of the U.S. Air Force (officer or enlisted, regular, Reserve, or Guard) regardless of rank, component or specialty.

With this newest change, Air Force leaders should consider each part of the total force, including the auxiliary, when determining the most effective and efficient ways to complete the mission. CAP has approximately 57,000 volunteers and 550 aircraft assigned to more than 1,500 units stateside available or currently supporting 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.”

The auxiliary members, who fly the nearly 100,000 hours per year performing disaster relief, counterdrug, search and rescue, fighter interceptor training, aerial observation and cadet orientation flights, will now be included in the total force and referred to as Airmen during the performance of official duties in recognition of their contributions to the Air Force.

“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.”