Civil Air Patrol

Phelka Named National Commander/CEO

Brig. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, Civil Air Patrol’s national vice commander since 2017, is getting yet another promotion — the biggest of his 34 years of service in the U.S. Air Force auxiliary.

On Friday, CAP’s Board of Governors selected Phelka to be Civil Air Patrol’s next national commander and CEO. He will assume command Aug. 26 in a ceremony with Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, current national commander/CEO.

“I am very pleased that the Board of Governors selected Gen. Phelka as CAP’s next CEO and national commander,” said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin McLaughlin, the board’s chair. “Gen. Phelka brings a vast amount of practical knowledge of all aspects of CAP since he has served as both a cadet and senior member, plus he has proven leadership experience at all levels. He is an inspirational leader, trusted and respected by CAP members, and has all the talents necessary to successfully lead CAP into the future.”

As national vice commander, Phelka serves as a member of the CAP Command Council, which also consists of the national commander, eight region commanders and 52 wing commanders, plus the national executive officer, chief operating officer and the commander of CAP-USAF. He has advised Smith as well as the Board of Governors on operational and policy issues, which over the past year included taking a leadership role in the organization’s COVID-19 practices and remobilization efforts.

“I have found Gen. Phelka to be an extraordinarily talented servant leader, one who is humble and truly focused on our people as well as our great organization,” Smith said. “Under his capable leadership he will take CAP to new heights of excellence.”

After being notified of his latest promotion, Phelka said, “As a former cadet, I have experienced the full range of opportunities Civil Air Patrol has to offer. It is a true privilege to be selected to serve in the role of national commander/CEO. “I look forward to working together with the Board of Governors, the dedicated staff, our Air Force partners and our incredible volunteers to lead Civil Air Patrol into the future.” 

Read the full announcement regarding Phelka’s selection on

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