Arizona Wing Passes Revised Air Force Evaluation Process
The Arizona Wing recently became the first in Civil Air Patrol to undergo a new in-depth operational evaluation process, announced in January, featuring a combination of U.S. Air Force evaluators and CAP observers.
Selected “emphasis” wings will undergo an in-depth inspection while other wings will be evaluated during at least two sorties on Air Force-assigned missions. The Arizona Wing completed the in-depth evaluation during an operational exercise March 25.
Inspection of the emphasis wings includes an additional evaluation of the ability to establish and operate an incident command post. Accordingly, the Arizona Wing exercise followed a training scenario using such a post so evaluators could observe command post operations.
Brad “Ollie” Oliver, the CAP-USAF regional operations director with responsibility for the Arizona Wing, explained the mission succinctly during the morning briefing: “Our purpose today is to validate the operational readiness of Arizona Wing."
The assessment of normal operations during routine missions differed from past compliance inspections of the past. The Air Force evaluators didn’t kill off the incident commander early in the day or declare an incident command post fire emergency that forced all personnel to evacuate.
Maj. Aaron Feller, Arizona Wing director of operations and the wing’s designated point of contact for the exercise, determined wing members’ activities throughout the day.
“Over the last several months, the Arizona Wing’s emergency services teams have trained hard, pushing our capabilities with emerging technologies. During this exercise, we took an ambitious approach with many complicated elements all happening simultaneously,” Feller said.
Col. Rob Pinckard, Arizona Wing commander, served as the incident commander. The Deer Valley Composite Squadron’s facility in north Phoenix was mission base.
Pinckard explained the training exercise’s value to a reporter from ABC15 in Phoenix who visited the mission base. “When the missions actually happen, when the crises actually occur, lives count on us being able to do the job that we’re tasked to do,” he said.
Multiple scenarios for the day included lifesaving and search and rescue (involving wing aircraft and the small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and ground teams), airborne photography of flooded areas, and a demonstration of AERONet’s capability for providing live video streaming during a mission. Six aircraft from around the wing and two spares were prepped for these tasks, with some flights including Air Force evaluators.
At the end of the day, the Arizona Wing received high praise from both CAP and Air Force evaluators.
“Once again Arizona Wing has set the bar – and you set it high,” said Col. Martha Morris, Southwest Region commander, referring to the fact this was the first wing evaluation under the new system.
CAP-USAF’s Oliver echoed that assessment.: “I’ve been doing this since 2011. This was as good an (operations evaluation)as I’ve seen.”
Noting the addition of online command and control, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oliver said, “Though virtual command and control adds to the capabilities, the synergy of working together, walking into a room to solve problems, can’t be beat.”
He worked through each section of the evaluation document, providing feedback on resources, planning, and execution and finding the wing met expectations for every facet of the exercise.
“Overall, the incident management team showed flexibility as they took care of multiple tasks,” Oliver said. “You didn’t have to use sUAS or AERONet, but you did. That’s what Arizona Wing does. You lean forward.”
Maj. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer