The mission of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is changing dramatically. The tragedy of Sept. 11 not only changed lives forever but it has begun to change the way every emergency service organization in the nation plans and conducts its business. These changes have long reaching effects in our every day lives. Who would have thought our transportation system could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction? The potential for this sort of thing is nearly unlimited in a free and open society like the United States of America.
The CAP around the nation has found itself performing missions that would have never been thought of a year ago. Within hours of the Sept. 11 attacks, the CAP was pressed into operations for emergency services in New York, flying blood and needed material there. During the Olympics, CAP aircraft were flying reconnaissance and transportation flights, assisting national organizations such as the FBI, state and federal officials.
Here in the state of Alaska, the CAP is working with state and federal agencies in an ever-increasing role in Home Land Defense. During the week of Feb. 11, 2002, the Alaska Wing Commander, Col. Robert Broullette, traveled to Juneau to speak with the Alaska State Legislators and the 17th Coast Guard District Commander, Admiral Tom Barrette, about the new Home Land Defense mission.
The Alaska Wing has increased mission support for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) with over flights of Prince William Sound and the Cook Inlet. The oil terminal at Valdez is one major area of concern in which the USCG has requested increased CAP support.
In addition to the previously mentioned areas, the Southeast Composite Squadron in Juneau has been specifically tasked with support of the USCG. This vital Home Land Defense mission centers on the areas of maritime patrols and transportation of officials from the marine safety office to the outlying areas for motor vessel inspection. With the event of 9-11, the USCG personnel are now required to conduct these inspections armed.
The Juneau Squadron will begin reconnaissance flights on May 15, and throughout the summer, in the coastal waters, will observe the comings and goings of the tour ships in Southeast Alaska. While in Juneau, Col. Broullette met with the Admiral Barrette to discuss the importance of the Juneau Squadron supporting the USCG in this new role of Home Land Defense. To accomplish this mission it is expected to take between 100 and 150 flying hours.