Proposal to Restructure the Civil Air Patrol

By Birmingham News

MONTGOMERY (AP) – A proposal to restructure the Civil Air Patrol would replace the organization’s civilian leadership and staff with active duty Air Force officers and airmen.

If the Air Force and Congress both approve the plan, an undetermined number of civilian jobs at Civil Air Patrol national headquarters in Montgomery could be eliminated, The Montgomery Advertiser reported Friday. The headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base employs 103 civilians.

“We’re going to be going over options, which will bring the Air Force’s authority commensurate with our responsibility,” said Air Force Maj Chett Curtis, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Civil Air Patrol is coordinated by the paid staff at Maxwell Air Force Base. If the plan goes into effect, those volunteers would not be allowed to advance to the organization’s top ranks.

Also, the organization’s civilian board of directors would be replaced with a 92-member command headed by a two-star general.

The newspaper reported that Brig Gen James C. Bobick, the air patrol’s national commander, has been summoned to a Pentagon meeting next Tuesday to be briefed on the Air Force plan.

”To dissolve the very fiber of our organization by eliminating CAP as an entity . . . defeats the very essence and foundation upon with CAP was built,” Gen Bobick said in a Feb 5 memo to the CAP National Board.”

Air patrol officials said they first learned of the proposal in January, when a paper was received at headquarters by accident. They were told the paper was a draft and not formal Air Force policy. But rumors persisted, and the controversy peaked this week.

CAP members wear Air Force uniforms and rank but pay dues and cover the cost of their own uniforms. Gen Bobick said the organization cannot spend its annual appropriation from the Air Force – $25 million in fiscal 1998 – on missions without Air Force approval.

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