The House has scheduled a Tuesday vote on a bill (HR 1178) to order an assessment of whether the volunteer Civil Air Patrol can help the Department of Homeland Security with aerial reconnaissance and communications on border security and other operations.
Resilience and keeping our nation safe go hand-in-hand. The entire nation is responsible for maintaining the philosophy of detect-deter-defend-recover. To that end I can see no reason why we would not avail ourselves of every available volunteer asset. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the civilian US Air Force auxiliary comprised of nearly 57,000 members.
The first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge met with CAP leaders shortly after CAP had been placed under the Air Force Homeland Security Directorate. They are uniquely positioned to conduct operations in support of the nation’s homeland security initiatives. With decades of operational experience, CAP can provide low-cost airborne assets across the nation, all manned by mission-ready personnel who have demonstrated capability to work with federal, military, state and local agencies across the spectrum of homeland security. CAP increases our nation’s security capabilities by providing airborne reconnaissance and imagery, disaster and damage assessment, airborne transportation of personnel, equipment and critical supplies, and multi-layered communications support. They can put a manned airborne platform over any major city or strategic resource in the country in less than two hours, safely and in a cost-effective manner.
In a similar initiative, the US Coast Guard in conjunction with Power Squadron,work to establish and maintain safe boating practices in the recreational boating arena. The program, which started in February 2005 also implemented America’s Waterway Watch and Local Maritime Homeland Security Outreach and Awareness Programs. It seems only logical that CAP would and should be tasked with providing a similar volunteer airborne reporting service to DHS.