[Editor’s Note: We received this from one of our contributors. Thank you for your contribution.]
No one disputes that there is “good” done by CAP. If you have followed my participation over the decades, you will note that I ALWAYS refer to it as an aviation minded, community service organization. It is NOT the existence of CAP or its need that is in discussion (though I find that the modes being exposed are often somewhat dated and need review, another discussion….).
1) The lack of accountability for unethical and unlawful behavior of management in the organization because there are no controls accessible to the members for such viz:
a) No control of selection of leaders, the next higher in the chain can appoint anyone for any reason to be the supervisor at the lower level with no recourse for anyone affected
b) No independent, competent, and effective IG program to address ANY kind of complaint within the system (all IG’s are appointed from those who are ASKED to be IGs and who simply say “yes”. This leads to a system where the “commanders” appoint their own investigators and to whom those investigators are beholding for their positions, again with no recourse.)
2) The “danger” this system allows to exist at all levels with respect to interactions with cadets and safety of operations.
3) The “discrimination” that this system promotes, both explicit and implicit, against traditionally discriminated groups. There is discrimination in CAP on both racial and gender terms. I can cite many specific examples I have encountered over the years from people who were rejected for awards, to “lost” paperwork for promotions, to deactivation of units, all for no other reason than the commander didn’t “like” something about the recommended person(s). Without an effective and independent IG system in which to file complaints and have investigations that will be followed through with sanctions, then this problem WILL continue within the organization.
4) There are cadets being placed “at risk” of sexual predators. Conversely, there are cadets who are being deprived of highly motivating activities for the same reasons. There are other problems in the cadet program and the policies concerning it.
5) There is a failure to utilize the available resources (both hardware and personnel) for mission accomplishment due to lack of management vision and understanding of the nature of a volunteer staffed, aviation minded, community service organization. Such a beast is NOT like a military unit. There are many factors that support this position (the differences), but the principal ones are: competence, accountability, delegating authority, and, as Dr. Edwards Demming would say (paraphrasing): “provide an environment where the worker can perform their job to the best benefit of the organization.”
If these elements were not important then organizations such as Law Enforcement Officers would not do background checks before hiring (escaped bank robbers do NOT make low risk armed car guards). This is where “discussion” of prior history or an individual comes in. If you don’t know how a person has behaved in “similar” circumstances in the past then you have no basis for evaluating their potential future behavior.
And you can have NO expectation of their ability or desire to change systems that have worked in their favor in the past when they are in positions of authority. That is the “fine line” that Bob and I try to walk with respect to anyone who desires to post to this list. It is why we do not exclude “negative” discussions of persons or subjects in this list as long as some level of credibility of any inference exists.
Having been directly involved in many of the specific issues Skip recently mentioned, I can provide some credibility to his statements (though possibly disagreeing on the actual point of view on some). And, as your post indicates, you yourself have viewed some or all of the types of behavior mentioned in your long and distinguished career in CAP.
However, as an add-on to Doug’s “ethical dilemma” question, what happens in an organization when every one keeps silent about the ethical, moral, and legal lapses of the leadership? Do they get addressed so they cannot be done again? Or do they keep on happening over and over again? Which point of view “helps” the organization the best over the long run?
Think back to the number of Florida counties you have experienced where Sheriff’s have banned CAP ground teams because of the behavior of one or more people in the past and the effort it took to get that county back on board. I have had to handle at least three in my career (I served as a Group Commander and Wing Director of Operations and Wing Director of Emergency Services so I have had many times when it was my responsibility to address such issues).
So, it is my belief that EVERYONE in the recent discussions would like to see CAP become a better, safer, and more effective organization in whatever missions it serves. But failure to address the underlying issues by not discussing them (or not understanding what is actually being discussed) AND not acting to change things we agree are wrong is letting the open sore fester.
Ken Massey, Lt Col, CAP