June was a very busy start to what is going to be a very busy summer. Many people spent the early part of the month preparing for and participating in an Air Force evaluated search and rescue exercise (SAREX). Normally every two years we are evaluated and graded on our ability to perform our emergency services missions by the Air Force. This occurred last year in June and we received the highest grade possible. As CAP-USAF, the Air Force command with oversight of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), modifies it systems and programs to streamline their work it was decided that in order to get Maryland and the other Wings in the Middle East Region (MER) into a standard review cycle we would have to undergo a SAREVAL a year ahead of time.
Anyone that knows me well knows I am always up for a challenge and I can be a bit competitive as well. You may recall from an earlier commentary that in order in help us be better prepared for running missions outside one of our normal Incident Command Post (ICP) mission bases we set a goal in our Annual Training Plan (ATP) to run a couple of SAREXs using our Mobile Incident Command Post (MICP) and two of our Transportable Incident Command Posts (TICP). Since we still had that goal in our ATP and real need to be able to set up and run an ICP in the field I decided we would continue with our original plan.
Even with all the challenges of communications, IT support, limited space and limited power we developed our plan, learned from some practice SAREX’s and tabletop exercises and put it all in play. It was a very challenging week. To add a little extra challenge, I spent the week at Tyndall AFB in Panama City, Fla., teaching at the Air Force Civil Engineering Academy, coming home on Thursday with the Wing already engaged in taskings from the Air Force. We are extremely fortunate in Maryland Wing to have a tremendous staff: operations, planning, IT, communications, logistics, transportation, public affairs, safety,…that gets the job done without requiring a lot of “upper management” oversight. One of the key lessons for any leader is to learn how to delegate and then get out of the way of the folks running the operation.
Despite a couple of bumps along the way the team of Air Force evaluators gave Maryland Wing an overall rating of Excellent. I sent a previous email out to the wing with a scorecard of grades for each staff position so I won’t repeat them here. However we did receive four grades of outstanding and seven grades of excellent, not to mention everyone else was graded as successful, which is our target grade. One additional item I wanted to add was a special thanks to all the professional volunteers who stood by waiting for “work” and not receiving a task. In an evaluated SAREX we have to have all our resources ready to go. We have no way of knowing what missions we will be tasked with but, like the Boy Scouts, we have to be prepared. We had three aircrews and a couple of ground teams that did not have the opportunity to get into the game. Lt. Col. Parris and I have already thanked them privately but I wanted to take the public opportunity to thank them and to remind everyone of one of the unofficial mottos of search and rescue: “they also serve, who stand and wait”.
June also saw a number of our members participating in national cadet special activities and professional development training. Our safety officer, Capt. Matt Cauthen attended the first ever Safety College for the development of our safety officers at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Edco Bailey will be working at the Chaplains Region Staff College. Maryland Wing had the largest group of students at the Middle East Region Staff College held at McDaniel College in Westminster with seven students and one staff member. Majors John Henderson, Chris Howell, Emily Hudson, Richard Palace, Jim Schmidt, Karen Walker and Earl Williams are now graduates of one of the best region staff colleges in the country. Maj. Emily Hudson was recognized as the honor graduate of the school. We also had a number of cadets and senior members attending multiple NCSA’s across the country, many serving on staff. I will recap this at the end of the summer.
CAP has a new safety system, the safety management system (SMS). This new on line system is designed to take the place of the old CAP form 78 and 79. It is an integrated system that will also help us develop and perform trend analysis for accidents, incidents, and near misses and actually help prevent future accidents. I encourage all of you, especially our safety officers to “look around” the system and become familiar with it. We will be holding some training sessions in the not to distant future but if you have questions please don’t wait. Contact the wing safety officer or your unit safety officer for help.
We have all been receiving emails encouraging us to attend the CAP Summer National Board meeting in Baltimore, August 23-25th. Maryland is leading the nation in registration but I know we can do better. Our staff has been working with the national staff to make this the best summer board meeting ever. We have created a “commuter” option for close by members to attend the daily functions without having to spend the night. While being there is great, I know it can be a bit pricey so do the next best thing and come by for the day. There is going to be a special, first time ever, cadet day on Saturday the 25th with special activities designed just for cadets. We have arranged special ticket pricing for Friday the 24th with the Baltimore Orioles for CAP members and their families. The Maryland Wing Color Guard will be presenting the colors at the game to honor our nation. I encourage you to join me at the game!
If that wasn’t enough reason to attend, we received word that one of our very own squadrons, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Composite Squadron will be recognized as the National Squadron of Distinction. This award recognizes the squadron with the best cadet program in the nation. The commander, Maj. Michael Crockett, will also be recognized with the F. Ward Reilly Leadership Award. I hope everyone can be there to congratulate them. Only one squadron can be recognized but our outstanding programs in the wing are the product of contributions of all our members. No one operates in a vacuum and we are one Maryland Wing and one Civil Air Patrol. Having the summer board meeting in our home is an honor and a once in a lifetime opportunity, don’t miss it!
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Maryland Wing