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Aug-04-2009 17:15printcomments

Oregon Civil Air Patrol Prepares for Major USAF Evaluated Exercise

The exercise is designed to train and demonstrate the capability to rapidly respond to a variety of disaster/search and rescue scenarios.

Local Salem squadron cadets refueling
Local Salem squadron cadets refueling. Photo: CAP

(PORTLAND, Ore. ) - This week, six specially equipped Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182 aircraft and approximately 75 adult and teen aged cadet ground support and aircrew members from around the state will be tasked by a USAF evaluation team to respond from their home base locations to a multitude of realistic potential missions.

These missions will involve search and rescue, disaster relief and other emergency operations designed to test their capability to handle a wide variety of real world potential incidents such as earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

This official USAF evaluated statewide training exercise will be held at the Aurora State Airport August 7th-9th.

After conducting local operations, all CAP aircraft involved in the exercise will gather at the Oregon CAP Incident Command Center located at the Aurora State Airport near Portland where they will continue to be assigned to a broad spectrum of operations throughout the weekend.

"We constantly train to prepare for these missions that could actually impact our communities so that we are ready to immediately respond in the event of an actual incident," said Lt.Col. Thomas Traver, CAP Pacific Region Mission Information Officer.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chuck Tomko, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center commander, said that CAP's cost effectiveness, among other reasons, makes the Air Force Auxiliary an excellent option for search and rescue.

"CAP brings essential assets to support CONR with our search and rescue operations. The added benefit of using AFAUX (CAP) aircraft in our Operation Noble Eagle mission is the financial savings to the Air Force."

"On average, the price tag to fly and maintain a CAP aircraft is about $120 an hour, whereas flying an Air Force fighter, helicopter or larger aircraft is much higher. This makes CAP a cost-effective force multiplier and an essential part of homeland defense," Lt. Col. Tomko said.

The Oregon CAP also spent an entire week in support of NORAD training operations dubbed "Amalgam Dart" on the Oregon Coast in June.

"Army Guard personnel were impressed with our CAP pilot's capabilities," said Major Ted Tanory,CAP, who was an air crew member and part of the command post team.

The exercise, part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Ardent Sentry 2009 exercise series, is designed to train and demonstrate the capability to rapidly respond to any potential air threat to the continental United States.

NORAD includes the United States and Canada. As the Continental U.S. geographical component of the NORAD, Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) provides airspace surveillance and control and directs all air sovereignty activities.

During Amalgam Dart 2009, with units from across the United States operating out of Camp Rilea on the Oregon Coast, CONR demonstrated a rapidly deployable air defense system that could protect high profile national targets against cruise missiles and other low-flying threats.

The CAP evaluated exercises, which are held across the country every 2 years, are set up so that each wing has ample time for new personnel training and new techniques and procedures to be adequately implemented during normal annual training operations.Oregon wing, which has over 633 adult and teen aged cadet members, was last evaluated by the USAF in 2007.

"CAP is a tremendous force multiplier for the Air Force as well as other federal, state and local agencies, responding day or night when planes are overdue and emergency locator transmitters go off. CAP aircrews and ground teams perform 90 percent of all continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center," remarked General Amy Courter, CAP National Commander.

The searches often lead to rescues, like that of a pilot who crash-landed his plane in the Cascade Mountains in southwest Oregon. Three members from CAP's Oregon Wing – Capt. Scott Bakker, Capt. Tom Moore and 1st Lt. James Metcalfe – quickly responded to AFRCC's call for assistance, locating the pilot's downed aircraft before dawn one snowy morning.

Last August, they were honored with the AFNORTH Commander's Award. Such rescues are common for CAP, which is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually," she added.

In 2008, The Oregon CAP was credited with saving the lives of 4 individuals during search and rescue operations.

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