65,000 Members Left Civil Air Patrol in Last 3 Years

Civil Air PatrolCivil Air Patrol

By CAPblog

65,000 members have left Civil Air Patrol over the last 3 years.

(Those are audited numbers from NHQ)

We don’t have a recruiting problem, we have a retention problem.


To improve the membership in the CAP, we first have to look at the top. The General Pineda has to go, he has gone a long way to show his true colors. I will leave the rest to you, but I am walking. This is not what the CAP is all about. The mission is on it’s rear end. It only has one way to go and that is down with less membership until we can install some real leadership at the top. Someone will step up to the plate and turn this around, but has to be real soon.

Posted by: V1 | May 14, 2006 at 16:02

Unless things change drastically between now and 10/31/06, that number will be 65,001, as I will not be renewing my membership following a 10+ year experience with the CAP. While it is true that the organization lives and dies at the local level…what transpires at the higher echelons of command does and will have an impact on the effectiveness of the organization. The section that I currently serve in the organization has suffered greatly at the hands of National by its decisions.

Posted by: | May 14, 2006 at 19:35

To those who have decided to “vote with their feet,” you just don’t get it: It’s not about being scope-locked on a webcast, it’s about keeping the faith with the member serving alongside you. I’m sure that they are not living and dying over uniform changes or other minutiae. They just want to make a difference, like all of us. Leadership in CAP is not all about NHQ, its about what we do where ‘the rubber meets the road.’ What are we going to do about it? Do the best we can, make the most of the cards we are dealt, and be frank and honest with the folks coming in the door. Let’s not create false expectations. CAP is not for everyone, but lets try to keep the good ones. . .

Posted by: | May 14, 2006 at 22:06

Unfortunately, I do get it — having served from every level of CAP from Squadron to Region, one does deal with the cards dealt. There are times, however, where because of the decisions made at NHQ, those cards adversely effects how we can effectively serve those whose CAP careers we are entrusted with.

It is very disturbing to share with new members the Core Values of the CAP… Integrity, Volunteer Service, Excellence, and Respect — only to see those at the highest level of our organization bend the values to the point of being the Core Suggestions.

It has been a privilege to serve the members of the squadron, group, wing and region in which I have held various assignments…the interaction from cadets and senior members alike have enriched my personal and professional life. However, there comes at point when one has to honestly face the decision whether or not it is worth the time, energy and money in an organization where the leadership is often isolated in their thinking and actions from the membership they have the privilege of serving.

Prior to serving in CAP, there were other community organizations where my skills were utilized…they still exist and hopefully I can find a place to contribute.

Posted by: | May 14, 2006 at 22:41

I’m one to believe that retention isn’t a problem. It is a symptom of a more serious disease; a disease that Civil Air Patrol has been infected with for quite some time. Strangely enough it’s many other symptoms bear a disturbing resemblance to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Civil Air Patrol, as a whole, has forgotten where we came from and therefore have found it difficult to chart a clear course.

New members join this organization for what they see on the surface and quickly find that regardless of what they were told when they joined, they are still destined to the same fate.

I agree with V1, that a lot of our problems reside at the top of CAP. For well over ten years National Commander after National Commander has been the medic that this organization needed to survive, but survival is not enough anymore. We need a doctor! We need a cure.

To use another analogy; if membership were related cash flow, Civil Air Patrol would be defined as bankrupt. Most corporations in our situation would cut their losses and reorganize. I firmly believe this is the path we need to take and we should count on our Air Force counterparts to guide us were we need to go.

For twenty years CAP as chosen to ignore the Air Force example. Perhaps to distance ourselves from the military or to merely do things the our own way. On the contrary, the Air Force has thrived and has become the premiere military branch in the most powerful country in the world. Furthermore, the Air Force didn’t accomplish this by sacrificing its people or its many other assets. As a matter of fact, quality of life for Air Force personnel has only improved greatly over the last twenty years. Also, the Air Force didn’t rise to the top by maintaining a non-standard organizational structure that every commander was entitled to embrace or ignore on their own whim. Speaking of the Air Force organizational structure: it works. Why don’t we pick up AFI 38-101 and go to it?

Now, no organization is without its flaws and the Air Force is no different, but that is what puts CAP in a unique position. A position to pick and choose what aspects work best and which ones we would care to do without.

This all being said, action must be taken now. It must be highly visible, highly justified and even more highly supported by all echelons of command; from the lowest airman to the highest general.

We need more skilled personnel, more professionals, and members with mission essential skills that have a reason to stay… They’re utilized! (Can you tell I am a Recruiting Officer)

Civil Air Patrol is going to have to become professional both in operation and appearance to survive. In an age of increasing technological advances and national security concerns, we cannot afford to look like “the good ol’ boys flying club teaching youngsters about aviation”; an appearance that I admit, has served us well for the last sixty-five years, but this is the 21st Century. It is time to move on and take on more responsibility… Grow up, if you will.

Civil Air Patrol should strive be become the premiere air response agency in the country with advanced ground support. We must have complete aerospace intelligence in all our missions to protect our assets and our people in addition to being an organization that is invaluable to the federal government and any other agency that requires the skills we have the potential to possess. For example, we could use staff meteorologists to brief pilots and perform resource protection for all inter-agency assets on the ground. Skills that will prove very useful in response to any natural disaster or prolonged search and rescue.

The Cadet Program is going to have to become the key to the ignition. For without it, we can’t go anywhere. It is the essence of our future not only as an organization, but as a nation as well. Cadets willing and capable may need to take on greater responsibility and larger tasks. Especially those age 18 and up.

No amount of discussion in this forum is going to incite change. That change again, is tied to the top levels of Civil Air Patrol, but I am a firm believer that this type of overhaul is going to change the impression that CAP members have about this organization and their willingness to stay in it.

Posted by: NCC1912 | May 15, 2006 at 08:46

Dear Folks and Colleagues in Missions,

Retain THIS! 😉

Turnover and Retention is always an indicator of organizational stability.

If I hear JetMaster correctly, it also shows to go you the potential power of actual members: The power that they also have from without the CAP legal entity, also known as a Corporation. Yet, how oft-forgotten, an organization (please note that I say organization, as in, living organization) which cannot live in a vacuum; without at least some form of external feeding tube ala Shiavo.

For all I know, JetSet was underestimated. Dang! Who would a known he was so influential in his community.

My grand pappy always used to warn me: ”Never underestimate the power of a schmuck”.

This guy is obviously no schmuck. but given his
Withholding moneys and sponsorship at the local level and to the extent Jet Set has described, amounts to an effective boycott.

For the boycott to be truly effective, it can’t just be an embargo for no apparent reason. Each organization must expressly communicate their rationale for which their withdrawal of support has been decisional, along with a ”get-well” card / suggesting the conditions which must be met before monetary support may resume. If the organizations really believe in the spirit of CAP, may I suggest that the moneys normally allotted for CAP not be diverted, but rather placed into escrow so that upon amelioration on CAP’s condition so that they may happily rejoin the list of approved volunteer organizations for this very respectable list of donors, it may receive back-donations so that it may resume where it left off?

This would be much less likely to be the case if these organizations loose hope in CAP, so, along with your message for withdrawal of support, how you appear in your faith in CAP to these organizations will certainly have a direct effect on how CAP at that level will likely receive continued support once it has corrected itself in their view.

I will try to remain non-judgmental about your decision. Some may call your actions treasonous, for you, being a CAP member would appear to be calling for a boycott against yourself and your own organization.

But, unlike many CAPers in positions of authority about whom I am sorry to confide, I congratulate you on your military retirement and honor the service you have given the country and the continued service you planned to perpetuate upon joining CAP.

Before CAPers leap to the notion that your activism may be treasonous or unpatriotic, let us remember that the democratic values our service-members signed up for to protect are precisely that of the right to free speech, the right to protest. And although it is true that a servicemen in many respects cannot publicly state ones own opinion, a service-member cannot organize, a service-member cannot organize or picket for a service member is under UCMJ under which it is forbidden. So, as it has often been IMHO best said, a service-member gives up their democratic rights so that others would have democratic rights.

Now, something about many of CAP’s members is that they are under their own self-inflicted impression that, because they are a paramilitary organization, they are in the military themselves and begin to act more military in some cases than the military itself. I wish that were to be put into practice in other areas where being more military-like would raise and enhance the image and general standing of CAP, but no, yet perhaps in the future, maybe after the shake-out, re-org, rattle and purge.

But for those who keep forgetting, CAP does not fall under UCMJ, as much as some would love for it to be. CAP is a corporation, most of its members are still benevolent, philanthropic and volunturistic. Its leadership is charged and entrusted with facilitating this aim.

As with any _corporation_, when its leadership fails its employees, or even worse, manipulates perceived realities with the intent to deceive, think Enron, or does its people real wrong, its members, if informed beforehand enough, (think the value of an informed membership or electorate) before the Enronesque shambles actually take place, in a democratic society, have a right to picket, assemble, organize and protest.

And that is whether you or I agree with those who picket, their right remains, excepting the law is against them if this picketing endangers human life or anything else considered to be of high enough import for the flavor of Government holding office at any given time: (Such as the case of the Air Traffic Controllers who were told to stop striking or lose their jobs under the Reagan Administration, then they lost their jobs to a bunch of young whipper snappers who are all now retiring simultaneously).

But, there are still lessons to be learned about placing embargoes over entities because of its leadership.

From the looks of it: Go straight for the jugular, don’t play double agent and forget about embargoes unless you feel that it affects the leadership more than it affects the people.

In the case of the Civil Air Patrol, I truly believe that most of its members are well meaning patriots in the true sense of the word patriot. Beware of the power-hungry poser who sees CAP as a way to support self and inside buddy click at the expense of others and looking magnanimous and heroic while doing so. Most CAP members are one who wishes to do one’s people well, acts upon it and is darn proud of it.

May I suggest that as we strive to ”surgically” extract those hunkered-down malignant cells, that we not throw the baby out with the bath-water, that our innocent collateral damage not be >50X more than that of our military casualties and then, that we not sing glory or claim victory too prematurely as the test of time will truly tell if such an experiment was indeed successful.

Posted by: Oilygarch | May 22, 2006 at 14:45

5 Comments on "65,000 Members Left Civil Air Patrol in Last 3 Years"

  1. Revolving Door

  2. I was a member of Civil Air Patrol for well over 20 years. I joined as a Senior-Member officer- because active duty US Air Force, US Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units were reducing officer positions in the 1970s- By the time the USAF started its buildup- I was over the age for a commission. My father was an active duty USAF rated master navigator who died on active duty- after serving almost 30 years- in both the USAF and Air National Guard. Our units had many retired USAF officers who wore the uniform and wanted to continue to serve because they feel the same way I do- this is the greatest country in the world- and this nation has the best Air Force period. Sadly, the active USAF considers the CAP a joke- Our organization was constantly referred to as “Phony Air Force” and “Fake Air Force” by the active duty components. I reached a point where I just gave up. The auxiliary units in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are important components of the overall force.

  3. Do you have current information on declining membership numbers in this second decade of the 21st century? That would very much help us if you can provide it.

    • CAP Insights presented the declining numbers after trolling through official CAP publications.

      CAP had over 64,000 members when Courter was the National Commander. Today, in official documentation from the Civil Air Patrol, that number has nose dived to “approx. 56,000” members.

      MORE THAN 58,000 members, on their Facebook page (21 December 2016).

      Approx. 56,000 members, CAP Data Sheet, page 1.

      What this isn’t revealing is how many of the current 56,000 have only been members for less than 3 years as a part of the mass exodus and heavy recruitment process to keep those numbers from looking much, much worse.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.