[Editor’s Note: This was sent to us from a post originally made on November 17th 2009 at krfarm . net entitled Civil Air Patrol at a Crossroads.]
“CAP has been plagued with systemic corruption for years.”
Civil Air Patrol is at a crossroads with more than just uniforms. Uniforms are merely the tip of the iceberg (although the incessant uniform changes is telling of how much the CAP leadership, in general, cares more about image than anything else).
Maj Gen Courter is an exception to this, although as of her 3rd year as National Commander, about 60% of the National Board was still comprised of Pineda appointees (which is still the case, for the most part)… so her hands remain tied to a large extent. General Courter wants the best for CAP, and devotes a lot of time to the organization… but she is much more respected and appreciated by the membership than her high-ranking colleagues at National. Case in point, some 20+ IG complaints have been filed against Maj Gen Courter within the past 2 years (none of which have resulted in findings of misconduct or need for further action, I might add).
Also, when Pineda was National Commander he replaced any and all region commanders who questioned him with political cronies, thus controlling the votes of the NEC (which explains how the “Tony Pineda Uniform” got approved). Most of those cronies are still in command.
CAP has been plagued with systemic corruption for years. Maj Gen Courter has recently created a Public Trust Committee for CAP and the governance model of the organization is under review. However, since the NB and NEC are still largely controlled by Pineda supporters, General Courter is not much more than the person in charge of rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship. She tries hard to fix the organization, but there is not much she can do to effect truly positive change in the organization. CAP is at a crossroads, and what direction the organization will take will be determined by the CAP leadership as a whole. General Courter is not alone in her quest to fix CAP and restore it to its former glory, but she and her friends are outnumbered by those who would rather maintain the systemic corruption and abuse of power that damages the organization and its image.
The grassroots-level members of CAP are in no way represented by the National leadership (despite being the backbone of the organization), yet are always affected by the actions of the CAP leadership. The Air Force is aware of this, as I will illustrate in the next point. It is important to realize that the Air Force tends to look at CAP from the top-down, rather than the bottom-up. In other words, they look at the actions of the CAP leadership and judge those actions as being representative of the organization as a whole (as opposed to the actions of the general membership).
Why is there very little chance of CAP senior members going back to wearing blue epaulets and name tags, as was done for roughly 3 decades? Because of misconduct by one CAP National Commander. Why were the tapes on CAP OD green fatigues identical to those of the Air Force until the Air Force went to BDUs? Because of corruption and mismanagement at CAP National Headquarters. These are just two examples.
And while uniform differences should not be used as a barometer to measure CAP/USAF relations, the Air Force’s desire to keep CAP uniforms abundantly distinct from their own is very telling of how much the relationship between CAP and the Air Force has changed over the years. Corruption and mismanagement at National HQ also led to the revocation of CAP’s “af.mil” main web domain and eventually the “cap.gov” domain (which CAP also received through the Air Force’s good graces).
Why does the Air Force prefer to spend between $2,000 and $4,500 an hour on inland Search and Rescue with helicopters and cargo aircraft, when it only costs about $120 an hour for a CAP Cessna to perform many of the same functions? Same reason.
CAP is indeed at a crossroads, now more than ever. It will be interesting to see how the future plays out.