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NC Wing Conducts De-Centralized SAREX

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Mission aircraft at RDU
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Air and Ground Teams Operate From Home bases


 “The idea behind this statewide exercise,” said Maj. John May, “…was to give our members a greater degree of realism by assigning individual missions that originated from their home-bases rather than having all participants report to a centralized mission base.” May served as incident commander for the exercise, which featured a mission base set up at Concord Regional Airport.

  The greatest challenge was communications, May added, “We scheduled eight (8) aircraft and three ground teams for participation. These assets were dispatched from their home –bases from Asheville in the mountains to Beaufort at the NC coast. That’s a distance of nearly 400 miles, which offered some interesting challenges for keeping in touch with the participants.”

 “We utilized every conceivable means of communication available to us,” said Maj. Rob Mason, Senior Incident Commander for the operation. “We used cellphones, landlines, CAP VHF radios, the Internet and the VIPER state interoperability radio system that CAP participates in with many state and local agencies.”

 May noted that CAP has no formal headquarters in the Metro-Charlotte area and the mission base was set up in the conference room at the Concord Regional Airport. “During real-world missions, moving into a facility that lacks the formal amenities that a headquarters would have gave us invaluable experience. We are in the hurricane season now and there is no way to predict where we might have to establish a centralized command center.”

  The Concord base combined all of the necessary CAP functions normally required for effective control of a real-world mission. As shown on footage broadcast by Time Warner Cable’s News 14 Carolina, the mission base filled the conference room at Concord with personnel coordinating air and ground operations, administration, communications, finance and safety.

After action reports are still being submitted by participants but at this writing May reported that 17 aerial sorties were completed, which accounted for 25 hours of flight time. Eight aircraft participated and 53 members statewide were signed into the mission.

 Mission Safety Officer, Lt. Col. Craig Richardson said that all assignments were completed incident-free from a safety standpoint.

  “The exercise was an excellent learning experience for everyone with some challenges with weather late in the day from Charlotte west and one mechanical cancellation in Raleigh.  Without having all the Wing radios reissued (from recent upgrades), we also had some communications challenges, but we were able to adapt with the use of the airborne repeater, an IP (Internet Protocol) radio connection, HF radios and excellent coverage with the VIPER system,” May said.

Editor's Note: It is significant to understand that mission base staff gained access to the Concord conference room at 0700. and was fully operational by 0800.