October 27, 2007

The New C.A.P; "One Heck of a Resource"

For my fiftieth post, I decided to report on the Maryland Wing Conference, which was today. I attended at the request of my squadron commander, as he could not attend and wanted a representative of the squadron there. I did something similar last year, where I filled in for him at a Commander's Call. This year, I knew that it would require a hotel stay, and the commander put me up for the night.

Needless to say, it was my first wing conference, and I was incredibly excited to attend. I was the only representative from my squadron, which made for some interesting moments. Breakfast was promptly at 8:00, and it was not a good one either. Some fruit (which for all intents and purposes was actually pretty good), and some rather delicious coffee. Maybe it's just me, but I thought that cereals and eggs were part of buffet breakfasts. After letting us mingle for about an hour, the Vice Wing Commander got up and introduced everyone, including the Wing Commander; Colonel Weiss. He gave a report on the state of the wing. A no-nonsense report card about the training goals met and not met the past year was presented. I am happy to say that MDWG met about 60% of our goals, and exceeded quite a few of those. Not a great report, but since it was the first year they used it, I would say things went well enough. There was a presentation by a representative from National, which was pretty much stuff that those of us on the great web already knew. There was also a safety lecture on new policies that are going to be enacted.

Then we split up into individual lectures. I attended one given by the IG; on how to make your squadron ready for inspections, and another on Ground Operations and Emergency Services. I was pleased to hear the group Ground Operations Officer comment on the state of medical training in CAP, and encouraging all of us to seek higher training from an approved class. We then broke for lunch, a number of awards were handed out, and then we got back to training sessions. I went to one on Flight Operations, which was rather enlightening and I think that lecture alone will be most beneficial in the times to come. Finally, I went to one on Logistics. This was went right over my head with all the forms that need to be filled out, and so I must admit that I don't think it'll be of much benefit in the long run.

We broke that night to get ready for the Military Ball. I went back and grabbed my service coat and tie. I was ready ahead of time, and arrived a few minutes early. Since I was representing the Squadron Commander, I was invited to the Commander's reception. It was nice (free soda, wine and beer for those old enough to drink it - I had a beer, and yes I'm 21) and gave me the chance to mingle with some of my wing's big-wigs. In attendance too were the Maryland Adjutant General, the Adjutant General for the Army, the Adjutant General for Air, and a Commanding Officer of one of Maryland's Air National Guard Squadrons. Although I didn't get to talk with them one on one, they were very nice and cordial.

About two hours later, as dinner was being served to the whole congregation, Colonel Weiss stepped up and made a few remarks. For all intents and purposes, it was the same as the State of the Wing speech from earlier in the day; but more dramatic and easier to listen to. He introduced Colonel Walling, the Region Commander. She oulined her new C.A.P. initiative: Connected, Available, Professional. In short, she said that the Middle East Region was connected with those in charge, Available to go on missions, and perform them in a Professional way. She ended with mild applause and everyone stood in respect.

Then came the best part of the night. The distinguished guest, Major General Bruce Tuxill, Maryland Adjutant General rose to give his speech. "A General is not a good General" he said "If he, or she, does not use every available resource- and Civil Air Patrol is one heck of a resource". When he uttered those words, the entire room broke out into thunderous applause. Everyone stood up, and there were even a few whistles. You know, with all the crap that has been going on in CAP recently, it was good to hear an Air Force General talk that way about the CAP. He went on to say that CAP had been given an equal seat in Maryland's Emergency Services and Military table. Specifically, we're now an equal player in the state's Joint Air Taskforce. Furthermore, when they look at the missions they are asked to perform, more often than not "Civil Air Patrol is right for the mission". In closing, he finished by saying that he would continue to use the CAP whenever he could. He finished with the biggest applause of the night.

Overall, I must say that it was a great time. I learned a lot, and for every lecture time I was forced to choose between at least 2 classes to attend. The only regret is that I did not get to present my squadron's guidon to the Commander during the ceremony; they handed it off to another cadet and senior. However, hearing the above comments by General Tuxill were certainly worth it.

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