Change of Command at the Civil Air Patrol

By Skip Munger | News of the Force

At the banquet which ended the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)’s 2011 National Board Meeting in Louisville, KY, last Saturday night, the CAP held its change-of command ceremony. Maj Gen Amy S. Courter ended four years of hard work and accomplishment, as the commander’s flag passed over to the new national commander, Gen Charles Carr.

Has enough been said about Gen Courter’s accomplishments? Gen Courter took over as Interim National Commander in 2007, after her predecessor, Tony Pineda, was removed from office and had his membership and rank was stripped away for corruption. He was gone, but much of the corruption that surrounded him was still in place and most of the rest of Gen Courter’s four years would be an uphill climb. Gen Courter inherited a demoralized organization.

The election of Gen Carr, who served as Gen Courter’s vice commander during her last year as national commander, was clearly seen as a vote for continuation of Gen Courter’s directions, though Gen Carr is his own man. Gen Carr took 80% of the vote. This is a relief to the greater part of the membership. Contacts say the National Board had an upbeat spirit this year.

These are some of the accomplishments of the Gen Courter tenure:

• It was a slow process, but most of the corrupt senior officers are off the voting boards That paved the way for an orderly succession. A culture of cronyism has been replaced by one of accountability and professionalism.

• Gen Courter successfully made a case for a complete review of the governance model for the CAP. The Board of Governors (BOG) has hired BoardSource to consult with them in this badly-needed work, which has been neglected for decades.

• Working with the U.S. Air Force, Courter has refreshed the membership of the Board of Governors. New members have been recruited for their willingness and experience to do some heavy lifting on that governance work.

• The CAP has recently finished its fourth unqualified annual audit.

• Gen Courter, who is a professional IT executive, brought the CAP out of the technological Dark Ages. Work to provide more convenient online resources to the members and a more professional online presence continues.

• Gen Courter introduced consistent and professional measurements for progress. Such measurements have contributed to, for instance, the CAP’s improved safety record.

• The cadet program has grown. It will grow more as the AFJROTC program has been cut from the national budget and will now be folded into the CAP’s cadet program. Membership in the CAP cadet program has grown steadily, thanks in no small part to enriched programming Gen. Courter promoted. This includes participation in the national Cyber Patriot Program. From the first cyber competition, CAP cadets have been among the top finalists and this year a team from Florida took first place. The government says right now it needs 30% more cyber soldiers than it has.

• The CAP, under Gen Courter had the best relationships the CAP has had with the U.S. Air Force in memory. A senior USAF officer told us, “She’s the real deal. We’d be happy to have in the USAF.”

• While other programs will fall under the budget axe, the CAP’s budget will actually be increased next year. The CAP has demonstrated its adaptability to new missions and has proved a cost-effective partner in surveillance and disaster relief for hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, and forest patrol. Some states may be making a mistake to cut their allocations for the CAP. Maine has gone the other way using the CAP as the most cost-effective provider for forest patrol of the northern forests. This year, the CAP saved 115 lives through its search and rescue efforts.

• Gen Courter has supported the efforts of others. Col Dan Leclair, of the Maine Wing, for instance, has worked very hard to markedly increase national participation in the Wreaths Across America program. Expect that to increase still more.

• Gen Courter obtained the sponsorship of Evergreen Aviation for a cadet program dedicated to learning management disciplines. She personally developed the program. That is now an annual event for top cadets, held on the Evergreen campus at McMinnville, OR.

In fact, most of the leadership training in the CAP has been enriched and upgraded.

In the very few times that NOTF has reported a problem to Gen Courter, she has addressed it in a responsible and timely manner. NOTF has received way fewer complaints about the Courter tenure than it has had about any CAP commander since we established NOTF.

NOTF salutes Maj Gen Army Courter for a job well done. She has left the CAP in a much different state than she found it.

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