Successful Conclusion to February COMEX

posted Mar 18, 2017, 8:15 PM by Richard Qualls   [ updated Mar 18, 2017, 8:20 PM ]
Civil Air Patrol demonstrated readiness to launch over 100 aircraft nationally during a recent Department of Defense exercise.
The exercise, which included multiple military and federal agencies, simulated a cyber-attack causing commercial communications systems to fail.  In such a real-world emergency, CAP could be tasked with extensive damage assessment air sorties. “This is a developing mission for CAP,” said John Desmarais, CAP director of operations.  “Cyber-attacks and other events that take out some or all of the commercial communications and power systems constitute a real threat, in the eyes of our DoD customers.”

Exercise tasking was received via secure High Frequency (HF) radio messages and distributed to wings via CAP’s extensive HF radio network.  Wings responded to the tasking as tabletop sorties, identified available aircraft and air crews, and reported back by radio. Those reports of available assets were used as exercise input by command staff at the top level of the exercise. “In a real ‘very bad day’ scenario in which commercial systems fail, HF radio could be the only way of getting urgent messages across the country,” noted Malcolm Kyser, CAP Chief of Communications. “CAP’s role in this kind of mission will be crucial because we have both the experienced air crews that can report what’s happening across the country, and the expert radio operators to receive and report sortie tasking with high accuracy. Close to 300 CAP radio stations participated in the exercise."

The exercise February 28 was the third such DoD exercise in recent months simulating communications systems failure in which CAP has participated.  CAP is currently developing an after action report to document lessons learned, to be applied to future exercises and planning.