Arkansas Wing Briefs Guatemalan Army Officers on CAP Capabilities
Capt. Justin Brand
Arkansas Wing members briefed officers in the Guatemalan Army on Civil Air Patrol’s natural disaster response capabilities during an orientation session at the Arkansas National Guard’s Robinson Maneuver Training Center in North Little Rock.
Guatemala is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as earthquakes and volcanoes, along with damage from hurricanes crossing the Caribbean. The Guatemalan delegation – Cols. Edgar Augustin Morales, director of operations; Julio Cesar Morales Asencio and Oscar Estuardo Suarez Ortiz of the Directorate of Transmissions and Technology; and Gerardo Javier Avila Duarte of the Humanitarian Aid and Rescue Battalion – was particularly interested in improving their nation’s ability to respond to such events.
During the National Guard-organized Department of Military Support Orientation, Col. Robert Allison, Arkansas Wing commander, told the visitors about CAP’s organizational structure and its ability to conduct emergency services, disaster relief and homeland security operations.
“The Guatemalan representatives were very impressed with the capability which Civil Air Patrol brings to the table, especially given the fact that we are an all-volunteer force,” Allison said.
The briefing preceded a tabletop exercise recreating a portion of the Arkansas River flooding disaster of 2019, during which the Arkansas Wing provided thousands of images to the National Guard for damage assessment. The National Guard planners planners included images from the mission in staging the exercise, adding an additional element of realism.
The Guatemalan officers also toured the Arkansas Wing headquarters building’s operations center during a visit overseen by Lt. Col. Marchelle Jones, wing chief of staff, and looked over a CAP Cessna 182 under the guidance of Lt. Col. Richard Smith, the wing’s homeland security and counterdrug officer. Smith demonstrated the functions of the Garmin G1000 flight instrument system, GFC 700 autopilot and Becker Emergency Beacon Locator.
“They asked a lot of questions and were interested in the different costs associated with purchasing and operating this type of aircraft, or retrofitting an aircraft with the G1000,” Smith said. “They were surprised by all of the automated functions the aircraft is capable of performing and the various types of missions we are tasked with.
“It was a fun experience and an interesting way to exchange ideas with a group of like-minded first responders,” he said.
Air Force Col. Christopher Wolter, Arkansas National Guard strategic plans officer, who organized the orientation, expressed his appreciation for wing’s role in the state’s disaster response framework.
“In planning this event, the Arkansas National Guard wanted to demonstrate for our Guatemalan partners our interagency relationships, and specifically the tremendous contributions the Arkansas Wing of Civil Air Patrol made in gathering critical imagery during the 2019 Arkansas River floods,” Wolter said.
“CAP is an integral part of our emergency response planning.”
Representatives from the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management and a local county emergency manager also participated in the orientation.