February was another busy month here in the Middle East Region. We are ending the month and starting next month with our national Legislative Day and our winter Command Council meeting in D.C. Since I didn't want you to think I was a slacker two months in a row, I decided to wait until April's commentary to talk about anything new coming out of our meetings.
This month several wings honored our WWII CAP veterans in their home states by presenting them with their Congressional Gold Medals. Several more wings have ceremonies planned over the next two months. When your wing does a local presentation, please do your best to be there to honor Civil Air Patrol’s founding members.
By now all of you have seen the emails about the rollout of the training materials for the revised cadet protection program. CAP Regulation 52-10 (Cadet Protection Policy) was significantly revised in October 2014. This revision included "future training" for cadets and seniors to help with the changes in the regulation. The future is now!
You can go here: http://www.capmembers.com/cadet_programs/cadet_protection/ for more information about the training. Cadets will need to do the Cadet Wingman Course. Seniors, depending on the level of participation in the cadet program, are required to take the Cadet Protection Basic Course and/or Cadet Protection Advanced Course. I have taken both the basic and advanced courses and they are well done and easy to do. There is a deadline of July 1, 2015, for all seniors to take this training. Don't wait until the last minute.
Our operations tempo in the region is staying high, despite some weather related problems. We are ahead in our flying hours for the same time last year. In fact, three of our units: DCWG, NCWG, and the MER HQ are ahead of their required annual hour benchmark of 200 hours per year. Since we typically do a lot more flying in the spring and summer, this head start is significant. I encourage all of you to get out and train. Our budget is approved and in place for FY15 and we need to take advantage of the strong training programs that are going on across the region. Included in this should be a special emphasis on cadet orientation flying.
Speaking of strong training programs, the MER SAR College is coming up. It will be held on May 15-17 at Ft Pickett, Va. This year's director is Lt. Col. John Henderson. There will be a broad spectrum of courses including classes for incident commanders, mission air crews (MP,MO,MS, AP), and ground teams. Mark your calendar and join me at one of CAP's premiere emergency services training programs.
The MER Safety Blitz is on. It runs from February 13 until March 31. This year there is a special emphasis on safety with refresher training for all CAP personnel. Training may be completed via NHQ e-services online courses or by participation in qualified training conducted in person by local unit or wing organizations. It is a time for all of us to emphasize safety. Part of the blitz includes meeting the required annual "safety day" that is mandatory per CAPR 62-1, Safety Regulations. Every unit has the flexibility within this time frame to schedule their safety day. For the MER staff, our day will be Sunday, March 1, 2015.
Finally, I invite you to take a look at our new website: https://www.mer.cap.gov/. The MER A6I (Information Technology) Capt. Aaron Newman and his assistant, Capt. Jim Holcomb, have done an amazing job rolling out this new platform. The staff is still working on migrating their content into the new website but take the time to check it out. If you have any suggestions on how to make it even better, let them know. We are here to serve all of you.
JOHN M. KNOWLES, Colonel, CAP
Commander, Middle East Region