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South Dakota Civil Air Patrol held State-Wide Training Exercise

March 22, 2022

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South Dakota Wing (SDWG), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), held a state-wide training exercise Saturday, March 12. It was a distributed Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) with units, known as squadrons, across South Dakota Wing completing ground team, aircrew, drone, and other emergency services training.  

“Close to 60 CAP members participated in this exercise which accomplished its training objectives,” said Col. Michael Marek, CAP’s incident commander for the exercise. “We had air and ground training sorties, as well as hands-on training at our local squadron bases around the state.” 
Marek noted that the overall exercise had incident staff at multiple locations, coordinated by videoconference, which allows CAP to respond to critical missions quickly and with the most qualified incident staff. The Incident Command Post was located in Sioux Falls. 

While the incident staff worked together virtually, squadrons were able to plan and complete training for their youth members, known as cadets, and senior members according to what their emergency services training needs were. For example, Rushmore Composite Squadron accomplished ground team, ICUT (radio communications), and aircrew training, with several members participating. Sioux Falls Composite Squadron provided their cadets with drone training in the morning before providing ground team training in the afternoon. Other squadrons provided their members with different combinations of training activities. 

CAP members complete SAREXes regularly in order to learn and refine CAP mission skills for when they are asked to assist by other agencies with air and ground missing persons searches. All members are volunteers and take time to train because they know it is important to have proficiency in these skills when they are called. 

Civil Air Patrol performs search, disaster relief and other missions in its role as the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, part of the Air Force Total Force. CAP is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.  

“South Dakota Wing continually trains for the kinds of missions we perform for the Air Force and other federal, state, tribal and local agencies,” said Col. Michael Marek, CAP’s incident commander for the exercise. “Our volunteer members take pride in training to professional standards.” 

CAP has close to 400 members in South Dakota with units in Brookings, Custer, Miller/Faulkton, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Tea. CAP can deploy its six aircraft, ground teams and small search drones to assist in emergency response and other support to local, state, tribal and federal agencies in South Dakota.


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