Becoming an accomplished CAP member means something different to each person. Below is information to help understand how formal advancement occurs in Civil Air Patrol. Members in Civil Air Patrol are expected to seek all forms of advancement.
Many people join Civil Air Patrol (especially in Jeffco Squadron) because they are interested in the operational work required to execute CAP's missions. Examples of operational work include talking on radios, flying airplanes, or otherwise operating CAP equipment. Sometimes, this work is done during times of emergency, but the work is more often done during times of non-emergency training.
Below are some examples of Operations Qualifications common in Jeffco Squadron:
Mission Staff Assistant
Mission Radio Operator
Ground Team Search Member
Check Pilot Examiner
These qualifications are completely separate from Rank/Grade (described below).
Promotions, Awards, and Rank/Grade
With the exception of new Civil Air Patrol members, each Civil Air Patrol member has a grade which mirrors the United States Air Force grade structure. Regardless of the operations qualifications held by a member, a member must achieve professional development objectives and hold a duty position to achieve a higher rank/grade in Civil Air Patrol.
Awards and Rank/Grade are a recognition of achievement rather than a way of establishing the command structure.
Civil Air Patrol can offer valuable opportunities to its members through a program called Professional Development (or PD). The PD program is designed to motivate members to develop leadership skills by performing tasks which help Civil Air Patrol which simultaneously improve the member's understanding of Civil Air Patrol and empower the member to become leaders. The PD program has five Levels; Completion of Level I is required for all members within 60 days of joining.
Though in some ways related to Professional Development, Jeffco Squadron asks that all members fulfil a duty position for the squadron. Duty positions are comparable to a job title in a company; they describe what the person does on a day-to-day basis for the squadron. Below are some examples of Duty Positions in Jeffco Squadron:
Commander: Responsible for the proper execution of the mission by overseeing those who hold Duty Positions. Also responsible for execution of Duty Positions not currently filled.
Communications Officer: Ensures the communications equipment is accounted for and repairs executed in a timely fashion.
Aerospace Education Officer: Seeks to educate the public (and CAP members) about aerospace.
Office Manager: Ensures the office is kept safe, secure, and clean.
Emergency Services Officer: Program Manager for Emergency Services and Disaster Relief Program.
Cadet Orientation Flying Program Manager
Upon joining Jeffco Squadron, you will be asked to select a duty position.
Echelons of CAP
Duty Positions are defined at each echelon of CAP. The echelons of CAP reflect the echelons of the U.S. Air Force, but are not identical to it.
The relevant echelons in Jeffco Squadron and in Colorado Wing are:
- Squadron Echelon: This is the most granular level CAP, where 'the rubber meets the road' and our missions are actually executed. If you join Jeffco Squadron, you will be assigned to a Duty Position at the squadron echelon.
- Group Echelon: A group contains one or more squadrons. A group usually contains squadrons within a similar geographical area. For example "Northern Metro Denver", or "Western Colorado". Jeffco Squadron is in the "Group I - Front Range North" group.
- Wing Echelon: A wing is defined geographically by U.S. state boundaries. Jeffco Squadron and Group I are in the Colorado Wing (sometimes abbreviated as COWG).
- Region Echelon: A region contains several Wings/States. Examples of regions are: "Great Lakes Region", "Mid-Atlantic Region". Jeffco Squadron, Group I, and Colorado Wing are part of the Rocky Mountain Region.
- National Echelon: National is the highest echelon and contains all Regions.