17:04 PM

Air Force Celebrates 70th Anniversary With Total Force Partners

As the U.S. Air Force celebrates its 70th anniversary, officials with Civil Air Patrol — the official Air Force auxiliary — are mindful and appreciative of the organization's status as a strategic partner with its parent organization.

A CAP delegation led by new National Commander Maj. Gen. Mark Smith was in Washington, D.C., as part of the Air Force celebration on Thursday at the Pentagon, which included the cutting of a giant cake featuring the Air Force’s 70th anniversary logo.

An Air Force invitation to the celebration was extended to all members of the Total Force — members of the regular Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Force retired military and civilian employees, as well as Civil Air Patrol. CAP is the newest member of the Total Force, receiving that designation in 2015 when the Air Force officially named its auxiliary as a strategic partner.

“Inclusion in the Total Force means the Air Force can now consider how to use any mix of these assets to best complete its noncombat missions,” said Smith. ”Being a part of the Total Force affords CAP great respect and entails added responsibilities.

“CAP’s assets and capabilities represent a cost-effective force multiplier for the Air Force,” he added. "As a result, the Air Force often relies on CAP to help train its members.”

CAP’s all volunteer membership consists of 58,000 volunteers — more than 32,000 of whom are involved in operations and over 9,000 who are qualified aircrew members. CAP’s fleet of single-engine planes, one of the largest in the world, provides low-and-slow capabilities for a wide variety of missions, including disaster relief aerial reconnaissance and search and rescue, and some CAP aircraft mimic the Air Force’s MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper -- unmanned planes that are capable of providing real-time training to U.S. service members. In addition, CAP aircraft serve as mock enemy airspace intruders for training that allows military pilots to practice air defense intercepts.

“We are trusted partners and members of the Total Force team,” said Smith. “CAP’s Airmen are professionally trained and stand ready to fill these and other emerging needs of the Air Force.”