NORMAN, Okla – The Oklahoma Wing of Civil Air Patrol was evaluated by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) on Saturday, March 25th, testing its abilities and responsiveness to simulated events for which CAP, serving as the USAF Auxiliary, might be called into action. When the performance of wing personnel had been observed and the scores tabulated by the evaluation team, the wing received a “highly successful” rating, the second-highest rating possible. This means Oklahoma Wing is certified to perform any and all USAF-assigned missions during the next two-year period, until the next USAF evaluation.
Air and ground missions were employed to locate simulated lost aircraft and displaced persons in a fast-paced environment intended to measure the limits of command, control and capability. A simulated natural disaster stretched CAP resources even further as assessment of important infrastructure assets were photographed for would-be emergency managers.
“We have a great team of highly motivated unpaid professionals,” said Oklahoma Wing Incident Commander Lt. Col. Aaron Oliver. “These volunteers give up countless hours of their time to train and prepare for the next opportunity to serve their communities, the state of Oklahoma, and the nation.”
Operations evaluations are designed to exercise and evaluate CAP’s ability to operate under the FEMA’s National Incident Management System. NIMS is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—in order to reduce loss of life, property and harm to the environment. Scenarios developed by the Air Force focus on CAP’s core missions of search and rescue, disaster relief, homeland security and CAP’s advanced digital imaging technologies.
“We come into these evaluations with the intention of stressing the capabilities of a wing to the breaking point,” said USAF Maj. Aric Holly, evaluation team lead. “The purpose is to see exactly how much can be handled and to ensure the ability of the wing to respond to anything we ask of them in a professional, proficient and safe manner. We observed a team in action yesterday that is textbook example of doing things in just that way and we have no worries that Oklahoma Wing can handle whatever missions with which they might be tasked to perform.”
CAP launched aircraft from Norman, Tulsa and Sand Springs in conjunction with ground crews dispatched from Norman and Sand Springs. As aircraft located emergency locator transmitters simulating downed aircraft, ground teams were guided to evaluate the simulated crash site. A USAF evaluator posing as a lost hiker at Arcadia Lake tested ground team capabilities to locate and rescue lost people. Aircraft with on-board cameras were used to take low-level photos of bridges and power plants for evaluation by the inspection team, while other aircraft circled overhead to provide radio repeater services, providing a state-wide communications capability to mission air and ground crews.
“I am so proud of the more than 750 members of our wing,” added Oklahoma Wing Commander Col. Dale Newell. “Their dedication to what they do and the professionalism in how they accomplish it is an example of volunteerism at its best. I am honored to serve as their commander.”