August 11, 2022, 05:45:47 pm

Did the VSAF program fail?

Started by N6RVT, June 28, 2021, 01:53:43 pm

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N6RVT

It was all the rage about 13 years ago and then nothing.  Most of the discussion here was (surprise) about the new uniform they came up with for it.


Eclipse

Quote from: Dwight Dutton on June 28, 2021, 01:53:43 pmDid the VSAF program fail?

Yes.

Right around the time someone said "I have a good idea..."

"That Others May Zoom"

RiverAux

While the potential for this program was always somewhat limited due to the geographic distribution of Air Force bases I had some hopes for it.  Although not "VSAF", one could argue that CAP Chaplains continue to do some of this sort of work.  There may still be potential for CAP personnel to find very niche areas where they might augment the AF.  Public Affairs and History come to mind. 

The struggle for State Defense Forces to fill a similar role for their state National Guard units has been  mixed (The Texas State Guard appears to have done an excellent job as have a few other states). 

The Coast Guard Auxiliary does similar augmentation all the time, but the extremely limited resources and typical small unit sizes of most CG units make it much more likely that a random Auxiliarist might actually be pretty helpful.  Incidentally, I can report that the CG has begun pushing the Auxiliary to take on more of a role in ICS staff operations over the last few years -- they seem to struggle to find the time to train and keep their personnel proficient in this on top of all the other things they have to do. 


Holding Pattern

Not knowing what this was, I googled it, found the CAP thread, and found this hilarious comment:

QuoteDoes it come as any surprise that the acting commander of the CAP unit on one of the two bases selected for this program had to hear about it on a message board similar to this one?

Reference Thread:
http://captalk.net/index.php?topic=4006.0

Shuman 14

Did the USAF officially end the program or is it simply a good idea with no active participants?
Joseph J. Clune
Lieutenant Colonel, Military Police

USMCR: 1990 - 1992                           USAR: 1993 - 1998, 2000 - 2003, 2005 - Present     CAP: 2013 - 2014, 2021 - Present
INARNG: 1992 - 1993, 1998 - 2000      Active Army: 2003 - 2005                                       USCGAux: 2004 - Present

etodd

Quote from: shuman14 on June 29, 2021, 08:53:13 pmDid the USAF officially end the program or is it simply a good idea with no active participants?

Anyone before, during or after that time period, that had time to go help cut someone's grass or fix a fence, was probably already doing it and may still be. Why make something like that an official program?  Oh ... I forget ... for a new uniform and maybe a ribbon.
"Don't try to explain it, just bow your head
Breathe in, breathe out, move on ..."

N6RVT

Quote from: etodd on June 29, 2021, 11:05:22 pm
Quote from: shuman14 on June 29, 2021, 08:53:13 pmDid the USAF officially end the program or is it simply a good idea with no active participants?
Anyone before, during or after that time period, that had time to go help cut someone's grass or fix a fence, was probably already doing it and may still be. Why make something like that an official program?  Oh ... I forget ... for a new uniform and maybe a ribbon.
Get a blue dress shirt and Khaki pants from Wal-Mart and sew a command patch over the pocket.  You have the VSAF uniform. Thats all it was.

jeders

Quote from: shuman14 on June 29, 2021, 08:53:13 pmDid the USAF officially end the program or is it simply a good idea with no active participants?

As I recall (which isn't necessarily that reliable), it withered and died because they couldn't really scale it. That said, while the VSAF promotional name is dead (thankfully), the idea of CAP augmenting programs on AF bases is very much alive and will continue to be, on a case by case basis, just as always.
If you are confident in you abilities and experience, whether someone else is impressed is irrelevant. - Eclipse

RiverAux

This is the sort of thing that should be scalable, but CAP has never shown much interest in really supporting any non-flying program --- witness the lack of focus on GSAR even though that has much more future mission potential in many states than any of our air-based SAR or DR capabilities. 

However, what they should do is at least develop a regulatory framework that explicitly allows local units to work with AF and/or Air NG units on such issues.  The last time I looked into it (probably 10 years ago) it was crazy how high up you had to go in both CAP and the AF to even try to do something.  To the best of my knowledge that is still a pretty gray area.  That would allow those with the imitative to get things going and eventually find areas that might be scalable on a national level.  jeders is right that there have always been some local projects but its my impression that they've sort of been on the down-low. 

An example --- because of the generally good relationship between local CG and CG Aux units at some point an Auxie  volunteered to help cook.  That worked out and began to be a thing in certain areas and was already pretty widespread before there was a national-level program.  That national program continued to work on things and then they authorized specific staff positions at lower administrative levels to develop the program in areas where it wasn't already present. Now, in my area we've got a CG cutter that Auxies have been doing all the cooking on for months. 


Holding Pattern

Quote from: RiverAux on June 30, 2021, 09:45:33 pmThis is the sort of thing that should be scalable, but CAP has never shown much interest in really supporting any non-flying program --- witness the lack of focus on GSAR even though that has much more future mission potential in many states than any of our air-based SAR or DR capabilities. 

However, what they should do is at least develop a regulatory framework that explicitly allows local units to work with AF and/or Air NG units on such issues.  The last time I looked into it (probably 10 years ago) it was crazy how high up you had to go in both CAP and the AF to even try to do something.  To the best of my knowledge that is still a pretty gray area.  That would allow those with the imitative to get things going and eventually find areas that might be scalable on a national level.  jeders is right that there have always been some local projects but its my impression that they've sort of been on the down-low. 

An example --- because of the generally good relationship between local CG and CG Aux units at some point an Auxie  volunteered to help cook.  That worked out and began to be a thing in certain areas and was already pretty widespread before there was a national-level program.  That national program continued to work on things and then they authorized specific staff positions at lower administrative levels to develop the program in areas where it wasn't already present. Now, in my area we've got a CG cutter that Auxies have been doing all the cooking on for months. 



Meanwhile on Facebook a member posted about how CAWG managed to put together a mobile kitchen for CAP and other CAP members outside of the wing are talking about what a horrible idea it is and how it isn't core to our mission.

JohhnyD

Quote from: Fubar on July 01, 2021, 12:10:52 am
Quote from: Holding Pattern on June 30, 2021, 10:13:44 pmMeanwhile on Facebook a member posted about how CAWG managed to put together a mobile kitchen for CAP and other CAP members outside of the wing are talking about what a horrible idea it is and how it isn't core to our mission.

Because of some of the missions the coast guard executes lend themselves to civilian participation, the coast guard aux folks have always had far more opportunities to assist their parent organization in an operational manner. Cooking for the crew seems like a great way for an auxiliary to provide support to their parent organization. I can't think of a scenario where the Air Force would appreciate CAP members regularly cooking for them, let alone a scenario where the Air Force would need a mobile feeding unit. Make your own joke about the Air Force just calling down to room service. So the mobile kitchen is an awesome toy, but definitely outside our mission scope (and already covered by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the Baptist Kitchens to name a few).

One thing that COVID missions showed us is that long-term sustained missions that occur during the workday are really hard to maintain. Filling a shift once or twice a week in perpetuity is really hard to manage with a volunteer staff even if your local base had something CAP could assist them with once or twice a week. It's obviously exponentially harder the more days they'd want someone to come in.

The best case scenario would be some sort of project that just needs worker bees to show up and if there's an extra worker bee there from CAP, great, if not, nobody cares. Any task that success hinges on the volunteer showing up to run the thing is problematic at best.

Odd, I have never seen the Salvation Army mobile kitchen at any CAP encampment, exercise or event. California Wing clearly disagrees with your assessment.

Eclipse

VSAF failed because like many other "good iders" it wanted CAP bodies, but not CAP members,
with nothing duty-wise that required a member ID (except contact information).

Like most of the community service activities Pandemic Operations and similar that CAP
counts as "missions" lately, they can be performed with no special training, no need for a uniform,
and with less administraivia by non-affiliated adhoc volunteers.

"That Others May Zoom"

JohhnyD

Quote from: Eclipse on July 01, 2021, 01:17:23 amVSAF failed because like many other "good iders" it wanted CAP bodies, but not CAP members,
with nothing duty-wise that required a member ID (except contact information).

Like most of the community service activities Pandemic Operations and similar that CAP
counts as "missions" lately, they can be performed with no special training, no need for a uniform,
and with less administraivia by non-affiliated adhoc volunteers.
So what is it that you actually DO in CAP eclipse? Other than carp online?

RiverAux

Quote from: Eclipse on July 01, 2021, 01:17:23 amVSAF failed because like many other "good iders" it wanted CAP bodies, but not CAP members,
with nothing duty-wise that required a member ID (except contact information).
One of the purposes of CAP is to assist the Dept. of the Air Force with performing its noncombat programs and missions.  So, whether sitting at the check-in desk at a SAREX or sitting at a desk at the AFB answering phones, both are legitimate uses of CAP members

While the CG Aux has been relatively successful at augmentation missions, there are still the same sort of struggles that CAP would face with VSAF (or something similar).  Consistency can be a big problem for maintaining existing programs and recruiting new people to join and participate.  If a new officer comes on board who just doesn't like the idea, or more likely, doesn't want to spend the time to maintain the program, it falls apart.  The local Aux (or CAP) unit then can't really recruit new members who are really interested in doing that sort of activity.  Then a supportive new AD leader comes on board and WHAM you have a program again for a few years.  Frankly, this isn't all that much different from the same problems a small squadron has with maintaining any of the standard CAP programs.   

N6RVT

Quote from: Eclipse on July 01, 2021, 01:17:23 amVSAF failed because like many other "good ideas" it wanted CAP bodies, but not CAP members, with nothing duty-wise that required a member ID (except contact information).

Like most of the community service activities Pandemic Operations and similar that CAP counts as "missions" lately, they can be performed with no special training, no need for a uniform, and with less administraivia by non-affiliated adhoc volunteers.

I know at least where I am this is happening BECAUSE those activities do not require any special training. CAP ground training does not comply with FEMA standards, so we do not get used.

Show up to assist and tell them you are a CAP certified ground team leader or member and they will send you home with instructions to stay clear of the event.  Tell them you are FEMA 508 or 509 certified and covered by CAPs insurance and they will probably assign you an area to search that they do not have the resources to cover.

We can train to the actual FEMA standards, at least someone cares, as a proposal to do that is actually on the national website.

Ground team standards have not been updated since 508 / 509 became a thing in 2005.  Our manual has not changed since 2003.  National knows this has to happen but just hasn't done anything.

On the communications part of it - there is actually some slow progress.  NESA is moving away from CUL/MRO and going to COML/RADO which are the actual FEMA standards for those positions.

Nobody hesitated in making sure the airplane stuff met FEMA standards.  So I know they CAN do this.

So as long as our ground personnel have no training beyond GES that any other organization recognizes as valid, we won't get any missions that require anything beyond GES.

Which means CAP "Bodies" are all we can provide.

Eclipse

July 03, 2021, 06:43:03 pm #15 Last Edit: July 03, 2021, 08:46:00 pm by Eclipse
By "bodies" I meant activities and tasks that are not, and never will be, part
of CAP's missions (made worse by the fact that the USAF couldn't get past
members wearing their own uniforms, which says so many things about the
CAP - Air Force relationship it's hard to know where to start).

Standards are irrelevant if there are no relationships well-established coupled with
an actual need.  I'm not sure what you're referring to in regards to "airplane stuff
meeting FEMA standards", but regardless, it hasn't made a lick of difference in getting
new or more missions. If anything, beyond a few circumstantial successes, mission work
has significantly decreased over the last ten years, and lets not forget that absent the
Cell Phone Forensics Team's work, saves would be down an alarming percentage.

VSAF was intended to put bodies in seats to do administrative work (like literally process
Tri-Care forms) and other functions that should have been fulfilled by billeted service members
or paid employees in an attempt to backfill areas where the USAF was not able to meet their
manpower requirements.

Quoth the history:
https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/media/cms/Highlights_of_CAP_and_USAF_History__ABFCBED03EC81.pdf
"VSAF meshes the skills and interests of CAP volunteers with quality-of-life needs
on Air Force bases. CAP volunteers participating in VSAF perform support functions
that may otherwise be reduced or eliminated because of a lack of Air Force personnel
to perform these tasks. VSAF may even resurrect services that have been eliminated."


Like most other CAP "good iders" that encompass activities outside evenings and weekends,
it was location and personality specific, not scalable in a meaningful way, and evaporated
as soon as very particular circumstances changed slightly.

None of the duties or tasks required CAP affiliation, and many were, and presumably continue to
be, performed by non-affiliated local volunteers and family.

If CAP could get people to concentrate on what it is, instead of constantly trying to get in
other people's kewl pools, it might someday get close to fulfilling its potential, but the
persistent inability to say "no, that's not our lane, but we can do this and this for you"
has to make one wonder how long the TVA is going to allow this variance to continue its chronal loop
before it just prunes the whole timeline.

"That Others May Zoom"