Civil Air Patrol

Air Force Team Finds Arizona Wing is Ready to Conduct Disaster Relief/Search and Rescue Missions

Arizona Wing’s use of an sUAS team during an Evaluated Exercise was a first for the CAP-USAF evaluation team. This image, shot from a CAP sUAS, shows sUAS team leader 1st Lt. Don Fry portraying a search target lost in the desert.

A U.S. Air Force Southwest Liaison Region (SWLR) evaluation team found that the Arizona Wing is ready to respond during an actual emergency. Along with the top rating of “Ready,” the evaluators noted six “commendables,” activities or processes that enhance mission readiness and allow for more effective and efficient mission accomplishment.

Sharing the final report from the Air Force evaluation team on the Evaluated Exercise (EvalEx), Arizona Wing Commander Col. Martha Morris wrote: “It is with great pride and honor that I forward to you the final report from SWLR. It states what we already know. Arizona Wing is second to none. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to our program.”

CAP-USAF SWLR Commander Maj. Aric Holly summarized the findings of the Air Force evaluation team during the outbriefing.

The commendables included:

  • Arizona Wing’s culture of excellence and their overall membership motivation resulted in the Wing’s ability to fully staff a statewide, geographically divided, Area Command structure and execute larger numbers of federal and state taskings.
  • sUAS initial flight and ground team release operations were developed in real time by a team of experienced ICS staff members resulting in a safe and effective sUAS demo operation.
  • Use of Arizona Wing-developed technology (CACTUS/Spot Tracking/Red Alert/CAPlink) resulted in increased command and control efficiency and situational awareness during the evaluation.

The scenario for the exercise called for CAP members to respond to “a U.S. Air Force request to support FEMA operations as a result of a California earthquake that has affected regions of Arizona.”

The involvement of the sUAS team, under the direction of 1st Lt. Don Fry, was especially notable since this was the first time an sUAS team was integrated into ground team search and rescue efforts during an EvalEx. The Air Force evaluators noted that, “Arizona Wing overcame a lack of operational guidance on sUAS flight and ground team release procedures and safely executed an effective sUAS SAR demo sortie.”

Since the last EvalEx two years ago, the CAP-USAF rating system changed and the rating structure is Ready, Ready with Restrictions, or Not Ready. After three consecutive “outstanding” evaluations in previous years, SWLR Assistant Director of Operations Brad Oliver observed that “Arizona Wing members might think the ‘ready’ evaluation is a comedown.” He noted that six commendables and zero deficiency findings added up to an evaluation that Arizona Wing members can be proud of. “Arizona Wing is as good as I’ve seen,” he said, adding that he has been involved in evaluated exercises throughout the CAP’s Rocky Mountain and Southwest Regions.

Maj. Aric Holly, the commander of the SWLR, said, “I’ve come to expect nothing less from Arizona Wing. This is not a flash in the pan. You have built a culture than promotes excellence and that ensures the future of this organization is on the right path.”

Holly presented challenge coins to Cadet Master Sergeant Austin Lindgren for his work with the Safety team, the staff of Tango Command at the Tucson airport, and Lt. Col. Vic LaSala, who served as Planning Section Chief for the EvalEx.

Read the final report of the evaluation team.

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