The Civil Air Patrol’s been an important part of the search this week for a missing girl from Charles City. This weekend the C-A-P holds a long-planned drill, and Major Doug Janssen explains it’s part of an expanded Homeland Security role the Civil Air Patrol’s requested in Iowa. Janssen says the Civil Air Patrol hopes to fill the gap left by National Guard members called away from the state for active military in Iraq. With people deployed overseas and assets more scarce, the CAP went to the legislature to ask for an expanded role, so it can help the state “just a little bit more.” The Civil Air Patrol has seven small planes, and Janssen says they provide valuable service nothing else can offer. He gives the example of a tornado that’s done damage a long way from headquarters. “We can send an aircraft up to areas like Dubuque or Sioux City or Burlington and go out and take pictures of the damage in near-real-time, send them over the Internet to Homeland Security, and they can see it without having to send people out there.” This weekend the US Air Force has chosen Marshalltown for the location for exercises to evaluate the Iowa wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Janssen explains the CAP is the Air Force Auxiliary, and it’s graded every two years by the Air Force on its performance and readiness to carry out missions. This weekend’s exercise will test operational capabilities, and Janssen says the results will have a bearing on the next allotment of training money CAP will receive, “and the amount of new assets and new toys we get to go out and help service the state.” He says fifty or 60 personnel will be mobilized for the Marshalltown exercise. They’ll set up a disaster-relief scenario, go up and fly some missions, photograph simulated disaster damage, and “crash an airplane out in the middle of nowhere and have our crews find it” without any electronic devices to help. And in another simulated mission, they’ll have someone declared missing while they’re out fishing, and the volunteer troops have to go find them and make sure they’re OK. In addition to helping with floods, tornadoes, and lost airplanes, the Civil Air Patrol’s helped with several missing-persons cases this year, including the current search for a 5-year-old girl in Floyd County. The scheduled exercise in Marshalltown is set for this Saturday, July 9.
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