A bill by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) seeking recommendations on how the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) can support homeland security missions was approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today.

Congressman Dent, a member of the Transportation Committee, introduced the bill H.R. 1178, which directs the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the ways in which the CAP may assist state, local, and tribal governments and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by:

• Providing aerial reconnaissance or communications assistance for border security;

• Augmenting the Department’s situational awareness and search-and-rescue capabilities in the aftermath of an act of terrorism, natural disaster, or other catastrophic event; and

• Providing other assistance deemed appropriate by the Comptroller General.

After completion of the report, DHS must review and analyze the report and, within 90 days, submit recommendations to the Congress for further action.

“Aviation assets have traditionally played an important role in border security, in the interdiction of contraband, and in the search and rescue operations, evacuations, and after-action analysis that must be performed in the wake of a catastrophic event,” Congressman Dent said.

“The Civil Air Patrol has a long history of service to the nation. Since its founding at the outbreak of the Second World War, the Civil Air Patrol has regularly assisted states in search and rescue operations and emergency response, including action during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The CAP deployed 1,800 members to the devastated areas, logging more than 50,000 volunteer hours and distributing over 30,000 pounds of relief supplies.

“Today, our Civil Air Patrol force of approximately 57,000 volunteers with 500 planes across the country stands ready to assist in these missions. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alone we have over 2,300 volunteers, over 1,000 of which are Cadets between the ages of twelve and eighteen.

“We must ensure the effective use of all available resources for the response to catastrophic events.”